By Julio Rodríguez Matute. PAYPAL.ME/RODRIGUEZMATUTE2
1998, THE YEAR O HURRICANE MITCH AND THE LOST OF FRANK SINATRA.-
The Second Congo War begins, the largest armed event since the Second World War since more than 5 million people die during the entire conflict. The wars in Kosovo and Guinea-Bissau also begin this year. The US plans an attack on Iraq but it is not carried out because Iraq accepts inspection of its nuclear weapons. Hugo Chávez wins the Presidential elections in Venezuela and Andrés Pastrana is elected President of Colombia. The US president, Bill Clinton, is accused of having an affair with Monica Lewinsky that would lead to her removal from office. President Suharto of Indonesia resigns from power after 32 years in office while Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet is detained in London. Pope John Paul II visits Cuba as Israel celebrates 50 years of independence. Hurricane Mitch devastates Central America, leaving more than 15,000 dead and thousands missing, mainly in Honduras and Nicaragua. Earthquakes in Guatemala, Ecuador, Bolivia, Turkey, Afghanistan and Tajikistan cause damage and thousands of victims. A tsunami devastates coastal towns in Papua New Guinea, leaving more than 2,000 dead and thousands missing. Floods in China cause more than 12,000 deaths. Al Qaeda sets off truck bombs affecting the US Embassies in Nairobi (Kenya) and Dar-Es-Salaam (Tanzania), leaving some 229 dead and thousands injured. The Algerian guerrillas continue the slaughter of innocent civilians in that country and the civil war continues in Sri Lanka. Ramzi Yousef is sentenced to life imprisonment in the US for planning the first attack on the Twin Towers in 1993. New Zealand suffers a 36-day blackout, a NASA probe finds evidence of water on the moon, a fire destroys the Municipal Theater of Lima (Peru) and Swissair Flight 111 catch fire and crash into the sea off the east coast of Canada, leaving more than 200 victims. Microsoft releases Windows 98 while Google is founded in the US. France wins the Soccer World Cup at home by defeating Brazil 3-0 and Brazilian João Havelange leaves the FIFA presidency. Viagra is being used as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.
Wendy Fitzwilliam from Trinidad-Tobago wins the second Miss Universe title for her country in Hawaii, while Panamanian Lía Victoria Borrero takes home the Miss International crown in Japan. Titanic wins the Academy Awards for Best Film, Israeli transsexual Dana International wins Eurovision in Birmingham, United Kingdom with her song “Diva” and the song “Fin de Siglo” by Chilean Florcita Motuda wins OTI in San José, Costa Rica. In the US “Sex and the City” and “Will & Grace” are premiered on TV, in Colombia the channels RCN Television and Caracol TV are inaugurated and in Ireland the band “Westlife” is created. In the cinema we enjoy the movies “Armageddon”, “Saving Private Ryan”, “Godzilla”, “Deep Impact”, “Lethal Weapon 4”, “You’ve Got Mail”, “Crazy About Mary” “A Bug’s Life”, “Mulan”, “Dr. Dolittle”, “Shakespeare in Love”, “Spice World”, “Species 2”, “Lost in Space”, “Tarzan and the Lost City”, “Les Misérables”, “The Truman Show”, “The X-Files”, “Pocahontas 2”, “The Jungle Book”, “Bride of Chucky”, “The Lion King 2”, “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” , “The Prince of Egypt”, “Antz” and “The Thin Red Line”.
On the radios we listen the songs “La Copa de la Vida”, “Vuelve” and “La Bomba” by Ricky Martin, “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, “All My Life” by K-ci & Jojo, “Angels” by Robbie Williams, “All I have to give” by Backstreet Boys, “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears, “Believe” by Cher, “Frozen” by Madonna, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith, “Everybody Get Up” by Five, ” Gettin ‘Jiggy With it” by Will Smith, “Ghetto Anthem” by Jay-z, “My All” by Mariah Carey, “I’m Your Angel” by Celine Dion & R. Kelly, “Stop” by Spice Girls, “Together Again” by Janet Jackson, “We Like to Party!” by Vengaboys, “You’re Still the One” by Shania Twain, “Ciega, Sordomuda” and “Ojos Así” by Shakira, “Suavemente” and “Tu Sonrisa” by Elvis Crespo, “En el Muelle de San Blas” by Maná , “Life is a Carnival” by Celia Cruz, “I’ll never forget you” by Enrique Iglesias, “Dime que no” by Ricardo Arjona, “Salomé” and “Deja Todo” by Chayanne, “Rezo” by Carlos Ponce, and “Oye” from Gloria Estefan. This year, the singers Frank Sinatra, Sonny Bono and the Puerto Rican Frankie Ruiz, the actress Mary Frann (who hosted Miss Universe in 1986 and 1987), the actress and former beauty queen of India Persis Khambatta, the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa and Pol Pot (Cambodian guerrilla leader) left this world.
MISS WORLD IS CONFIRMED IN SEYCHELLES.-
In the middle of the year, the Morleys confirmed that Seychelles would be, once again, the host country of Miss World for the second year in a row, despite complaints from members of the opposition in that country that said it was an unnecessary expense. Both Eric and Julia traveled to the Seychelles at the end of July to refine the details of the event and make the official launch, for which the reigning Miss World, India’s Diana Hayden, also traveled and who arrived on Monday July 27 to the Islands in an Air Seychelles flight from London, with a stopover in Dubai, visiting the islands for the first time since winning the title in November 1997, as she had to fulfill “Beauty with a Purpose” commitments.
Miss World 1998, which was scheduled for November 26, would have a strong aquatic theme, with the stage for the finals built in the sea in a turquoise lagoon with calm waters at the Berjaya Mahe Beach Hotel in Port Glaud, Mahe Island. The announcement was made by Eric Morley on Wednesday, July 29, when the event was officially launched. During the ceremony, Vice President James Michel thanked Miss World, Diana Hayden, for “everything she was doing for Seychelles” and presented her with literary material representing the Seychelles as a tourist destination. Speaking of her eight-month experience as Miss World, Hayden said that up to that point the period had been very busy. “I thought I knew and had traveled a lot, but I realized there was so much more to learn”, she said. Miss World also recounted that there were numerous times when she was called to humility, particularly during her visits to charitable institutions. Members of the organizing team recognized that intense efforts to drastically alter the format in which the contest had been held over the past 47 years met with some resistance. Gilbert Pool, from the organizing committee in Seychelles, said that an additional effort was being made this year to give the event a “nautical” attribute. Hence the celebration of the event in the lagoon of the Mahe Beach Hotel. Before going to Seychelles, the participants would navigate the Seine River in Paris, where they would meet on November 3 and 4 before traveling to the Seychelles on November 7.
At first, Morley expected the participation of 96 participants, which would be the record in history up to that point. It counted on the debuts of Angola, Kazakhstan and Saint Maarten and was waiting for the confirmation of Albania and Iraq, countries that would also debut this year, however, Morley told Iraqi directors that he would find out the issue of sanctions imposed by the UN on that country to be sure they could accept her in the contest without problems. On the other hand, Guam, Macedonia and Tahiti discontinued the franchise as of this year, but Miss World would once again receive contestants from Nicaragua and Liberia who had been absent for years, since 1977 and 1988 respectively. The Miss Thailand World contest was canceled due to the financial crisis that hit that country, so unfortunately, this country would not be represented this year. The Miss Macau pageant was also canceled at the last minute, despite the fact that the Ministry of Tourism of that territory had allocated a considerable sum of money for the realization of this pageant. Nor were national pageants for Miss World held in Cape Verde, Egypt, Kenya, Romania, Sri Lanka, and Uganda.
The Dominicans could not hold their national beauty pageant this year, but they held a private casting in April, where they chose, behind closed doors, the Dominican representatives to Miss Universe (Selines Méndez) and Miss World (Sharmín Díaz) . The Argentines also appointed their candidate, Natalia Elisa González. On the other hand, the Morleys took the Miss World franchise from Guy-Rex in the US and gave it to Hirsh Wilck, who also did not produce a contest but chose Shauna Gambill, Miss California USA 1998, who had been 1st. runner-up in Miss USA ’98 held on March 10 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Also, Shauna had won the Miss Teen USA pageant in 1994 so she had prior experience in beauty contests. When they called her to invite her to participate, Shauna had already cut her hair because she thought her pass through beauty pageants were over, but after thinking about it a bit, she accepted his proposal. For their part, the Miss South Africa directors sent the 1997 titleholder Kerishnie Naicker to Miss World, as it was tradition for the South African beauty queen to attend Miss World. In Saint Maarten, the organizers of the Miss Model International pageant took over the Morley franchise and sent Myrtille Brookson, Miss Saint Maarten ’97. Here are some of the national beauty events held this year and where the Miss World participants came from:
* MISS COSTA RICA.- Kisha Alvarado, a 21-year-old future architect from San José, was crowned Miss Costa Rica for Miss Universe on Friday, October 17, 1997 at the Melico Salazar Theater. The finalists were María Luisa Ureña, 21-year-old office manager (to Miss World ’98) and Ivannia Cox.
* MISS CURAÇAO.- With the smallest group of contestants before the smallest audience in 34 years, Natacha Bloem, 21, was crowned Miss Universe Curaçao on Saturday, November 8, 1997 in Willemstad. She also took home the Miss Photogenic and Miss Personality awards. At the same pageant, Jeamene Colastica, 24, was chosen as Miss World Curaçao and Miss Elegance while Daisyree Constancia was Miss Congeniality. Some contestants took legal action against the pageant, claiming that the contest’s organizing committee and the Miss Universe Director for Curaçao should not have been judged, so they asked a judge to order the pageant to recalculate the results without the votes of those two people, but this did not prosper.
* MISS BONAIRE.- Uzmin Everts, a 1.83 m tall model, was crowned Miss Universe Bonaire on Saturday, November 29, 1997 on the paradise island of the Caribbean. In the same contest, Julina Felida was chosen as Miss World Bonaire and Geraldine Juliet as Miss International Bonaire.
* MISS FRANCE.- Forty-four girls competed on Saturday, December 13, 1997 for the Miss France crown at the International Center of Deauville, Normandy, in a lavish event broadcast on TF1. The winner was Miss Lorraine, 21-year-old Sophie Thalmann, heading to Miss Universe ’98. The finalists were 22-year-old Véronique Caloc (Martinique), 21-year-old Céline Cheuva (Flandre), 23-year-old Hinano Teanotoga (Tahiti) and 20-year-old Anne Houzé (Hainaut). Genevieve de Fontenay then chose one of the finalists to send her to Miss World ’98. (Read details later).
* FEMINA MISS INDIA.- At the Palmolive Femina Miss India pageant, which took place on Saturday, January 24, the representatives of India were chosen for various international pageants. Lymaraina D’Souza, 19, won the Miss India Universe title, Annie Thomas, 22, was crowned Miss India World, and Vithika Agarwal, also 22, was voted Miss India Asia Pacific. Dipannita Sharma and Karishma Rao completed the Top 5. 25 candidates participated.
* MISS ANGOLA.- The first edition of Miss Angola in six years was held at the Alvalade swimming pool in Luanda, on Saturday, February 14. The winner, heading to Miss Universe, was the representative of Benguela, Emilia Guardado, who was crowned by the First Lady of Angola, Ana Paula dos Santos. The Maids of Honor were Miss Luanda, Manuela Lemos (to Miss World) and Miss Huambo, Mariana Calei, who was also Miss Photogenic. 16 candidates participated.
* MISS IRAQ.- It was held on Tuesday, February 17, at the Al-Rasheed hotel in Baghdad with 30 delegates. It was won by 20-year-old Ban Kadret and it was hoped that she could participate in Miss Universe and Miss World. The finalists were Kanar Wahbi, 25, from Mosul and Soma Al Jaff, 24, from Kurdistan.
* MISS AUSTRIA.- Sabine Lindorfer, Miss Oberösterreich, 22, won the Miss Austria title on Saturday, February 28 in Kitzbuhel.
* MISS UKRAINE.- Yelena Spirina won the contest on Sunday, March 1 at the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theater. The finalists were Kristina Krasovskaya, Julia Zharkova, Irina Mikhaylichenko and Lydia Arefieva. 24 candidates participated. However, the organizers decided to send the 2nd. runner-up of Miss Ukraine ’95, Nataliya Nadtochey, to Miss World, as she was already a veteran in international competitions and could afford the expenses of participation in the Morley pageant while the 1998 titleholder was sent to Miss Universe ’98 in Hawaii.
* MISS SPAIN.- The Aguadulce Exhibition and Congress Center, in the Almeria municipality of Roquetas de Mar, hosted the event in which 52 young ladies participated on Sunday, March 1. The winner for Miss Universe was Miss Murcia, María José Besora, a 22-year-old Marketing student, who was also chosen as Miss Elegance, Miss Cultivated Pearl and Miss Televote. The Maids of Honor were Miss Cadiz, Rocío Jiménez, 17 (to Miss World), and Miss Navarra, María José Fonseca, 20. The semifinalists were completed by Olga Domínguez (Cordoba), Raquel Navamuel (Madrid), Laura Méndez (Las Palmas) , Patricia López De Las Heras (Seville), Emilia González (Tenerife), María Rubio García (Valencia) and Felisa Rodríguez (Valladolid). The judges included Luz Marina Zuluaga, Miss Universe 1958 from Colombia, and the international guest singer was the Venezuelan José Luis Rodríguez.
* EESTI MISS.- The Estonian beauty contest that chose its representative for Miss World took place on Sunday, March 8 at the ETV studios in Tallinn. The winner was 18-year-old Karin Laasmäe, while the finalists were Kadri Sooberg and Eleri Kimmel Vorust, both also 18 years old.
* MISS ALBANIA.- It was held on Monday, March 9 in Tirana with 31 candidates and was won by 19-year-old Aldona Elezi. The contest had not been held since 1995 due to civil unrest and political instability. The organizers again made an attempt to send the brand new Albanian queen to Miss World.
* BINIBINING PILIPINAS.- Tisha Silang, a 23-year-old nursing student, residing in Canada and representing the Philippine communities of North America, was crowned “Binibining Pilipinas Universe” on Saturday, March 14 at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. Rachel Soriano, 22, from Bulacán, was crowned “Binibining Pilipinas World” and Colette Centeno, 17, from Manila, was voted “Binibining Pilipinas International.” The finalists were Jewel Mae Lobaton and Elsie Sicat, who was also Miss Photogenic. The winner had to resign later due to citizenship issues, so she was replaced in Miss Universe by the first runner-up, Jewel Mae Lobaton. 29 beauties participated.
* MISS NICARAGUA.- Claudia Patricia Alaniz, Miss Managua, a 21-year-old girl, won the Miss Nicaragua title at the Rubén Darío National Theater in Managua on Saturday, March 14. Claudia represented her country in both Miss Universe and Miss World, because the organization took over the Morley franchise this year. The finalists were Lillianna Sofía Pilarte, Miss Río San Juan (to Nuestra Belleza Internacional) and Luisa Argentina Rodríguez Zeledón, Miss Matagalpa (to Miss Latin America).
* MISS ECUADOR.- Soraya Hogonaga, a 19-year-old trilingual professional model from Guayaquil, was crowned Miss Ecuador on Saturday, March 21 at the National Theater of the Ecuadorian House of Culture in Quito. As Miss World Ecuador, 19-year-old Vanesa Graf was chosen, also from Guayaquil. The finalists were Carolina Avellan, Geraldine Vásquez and María Gabriela Sánchez. 15 young ladies competed.
* MISS ISRAEL.- Linor Abargil, An 18-year-old student and professional model from Netanya was named “Miss Israel 1998” on Tuesday, March 24, heading for Miss World. The other winners were 19-year-old Hagit Raz, from Holon (Maiden of Beauty, to Miss Universe); Galia Abramova, 18, from Haifa (Queen of Grace, to Miss International); Ya’arit Barzilay, from Tel Aviv (Teen Queen, to Top Model of the World) and Milana Reznikova, 19, from Ashkelon (Beauty Princess, to Miss Europe).
* FROKEN SVERIGE.- Jessica Olers, 20, from Dalarna, was crowned Miss Sweden on Saturday, March 28, which gave her the right to represent her country in Miss Universe, being the first dark-haired Miss Sweden since 1972. The finalists were Jessica Almenäs (to Miss World) and Annette Lindbom.
* MISS BRAZIL.- This year a single contest was held to elect the Brazilian representatives to Miss Universe and Miss World. The event took place on Wednesday, April 1 in Tom Brasil (Sao Paulo) with 27 candidates. The winner, as “Miss Brazil 1998” was Miss Mato Grosso Do Sul, Michela Marchi (to Miss Universe) while Adriana de Souza Reis (Rondonia) was crowned as “Miss Brazil World ’98”. The other finalists were Luizeani Altenhofen (Rio Grande Do Sul), Paula Carvalho Arruda (Rio Grande Do Norte) and Alessandra Costa Couto (Acre). Until that year, Miss Brazil was organized by the SINGA company, owned by the daughter of the late Paulo Max, who, along with his wife, had died in a car accident in 1996.
* STAR HELLAS.- The final was held on Monday, April 6 at the Municipal Theater of Piraeus with 40 contestants. As “Star Hellas” (to Miss Universe) was crowned Dimitra Aiginiti and “Miss Hellas” (to Miss World) was Katja Margaritoglou. The finalists were Angela Evripidis and Eleni Pliatsika.
* MISS CZECH REPUBLIC- 18-year-old Katerina Stocesova, from the city of Podlesí, won the 10th Czech beauty pageant on Saturday, April 25 at the Palace of Culture and Sports in Ostrava. The finalists were Alena Seredova, 20, and Petra Faltynova, also 20, and Miss Photogenic.
* MISS PERU WORLD.- The event was held at the Jockey Plaza Shopping Center in Lima on Sunday, April 26, with the participation of 24 candidates and with the conduction of Antonio Vodanovic and Jéssica Newton (Miss Peru 1987 and Director of the contest). The winner was Miss La Libertad, Mariana Larrabure, a 22-year-old student of Gastronomy and 1.72 m tall, who also won the award for Best Face, while in second place and as Miss Peru International was Melissa Miranda (Tacna ) and third, as Miss Peru Asia Pacific, Viviana Rivas-Plata (Lambayeque). The finalists were Grace Sánchez (Junin), Brenda Robles (Madre de Dios) and Ursula Verástegui (Amazonas, also Miss Photogenic). Among the judges was Mister Venezuela 1997, Sandro Finoglio, who shortly after, on September 18, won the title of Mr. World 1998 in Troia, Portugal.
* MISS BELGIUM.- Tanja Dexters, 21, from Mol, won the crown on Friday, May 8 at the Forest National, heading for Miss World ’98 and Miss Universe ’99. The finalists were Ann Torsin, 22, of Landen, and Bouchra Fernane, also 22, of Molenbeek. 20 young ladies participated.
* FEGURÐARDROTTNING ÍSLANDS.- The Icelandic Beauty Queen pageant was held on Friday, May 29 at the Broadway Ballroom in Reykjavik. The winner was 19-year-old Guðbjörg Hermannsdóttir from Akureyri and the finalists were Áshildur Hlín Valtýsdóttir (also Miss Popularity), Lilja Karitas Lárusdóttir, Berglind Heidarsdóttir and Kristjana Steingrimsdóttir. 22 candidates participated.
* MISS KOREA.- The Sejong Cultural Center was once again the venue of the contest on Saturday, May 23. It was won by Ji-hyun Choi (to Miss Universe ’99), followed by Kun-woo Kim (to Miss World ’98), Jae-won Lee (to Miss International ’99), Yoon-hee Choi, Soh-hyun Yang, Jung-min Lee, Jung-hee Lee, and Shin-hye Kwak.
* MIS LIETUVA.- Miss Lithuania took place on Friday, May 29 at the Vilnius City Hall. Kristina Pakarnaite took the crown and the opportunity to compete in Miss World. The finalists were Ieva Bieliauskaite and Milda Urbonaite, while Natalija Liovkina was “Miss Elegance”, Estela Mazonaite “Miss Photogenic” and Irma Marija Jagminaite “Miss Audience”. The event was broadcast live on LNK TV.
* MISS HONG KONG.- The final was held on Saturday, June 6 at the new Hong Kong International Airport which opened on the same day. The winner was Anne Heung (to Miss Universe ’99) and the finalists were Jessie Chiu (to Miss World ’98) and Natalie Ng (to Miss International ’98).
* MISS SURINAME.- Farah Breeveld was chosen on Saturday, June 6 from among 36 girls and heading to Miss World.
* MISS WORLD COLOMBIA.- Mónica Marcela Cuartas, from Antioquia, was crowned on Saturday, June 6 at the Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Theater in Bogotá among 32 candidates. In second place was Nataly Paola Palacios, from Chocó, who was selected to represent the country in Miss Intercontinental.
* MISS WORLD OF PUERTO RICO.- It was held on Saturday, June 13 at the Caguas’ Bellas Artes Center. The crown corresponded to the representative of Juana Díaz, Antonia Alfonso Pagán and the finalists were Ileana Irizarry Agostini (Adjuntas) and Raquel Zaragoza Baralya (Carolina). Carla Martorell Colón (Guaynabo) and Laura Hernández Pérez (Hatillo) completed the Top 5. Miss World 1997, India’s Diana Hayden, attended the event and was introduced by the also Miss World but from 1975, the Puerto Rican Wilnelia Merced.
* MISS KAZAKHSTAN.- It was held on Friday, June 19 at the Palace of the Republic of Almaty with 50 participants from 14 regions. The winner was Dana Tolesh and the finalists were Irina Alekseeva and Maria Nikiforova. However, Kazakhstan debuted this year in Miss World with Anna Kirpota, a model from a renowned agency in her country. Her organizers decided to send her since she was fluent in English and could afford her trip to Miss World.
* MISS & MR. LATVIA.- It was held on Saturday, July 4 at the LTV studios with 19 couples. The winners were Miss Riga, Evija Rucevska and Mr. Jelgava, Kaspars Patašs. The finalists were Kristīne Skromane and Artis Apermanis. Miss and Mister Foto were Arta Cvetkova and Arnis Smiļģis, and Miss and Mister Internet were Līga Grigule and Jānis Eihmanis.
* MISS GIBRALTAR.- Melanie Soiza was crowned on Saturday, July 11 at the Alameda Outdoor Theater. The princesses were Aysha Pratts and Sylvanna Burns. 11 ladies participated.
* MISS WORLD HUNGARY.- Eva Horvath won on Saturday, July 25 at the Budapest Opera House.
* SUOMEN NEITO.- The Finnish beauty pageant for Miss World took place on Saturday, August 8th. The winner was Maaret Saija Nousiainen and the finalists were Christina Lindblad and Saija Palin (who was later 2nd runner-up in Miss International ’99). Tiina Juvonen and Elina Aro completed the Top 5.
* MISS WORLD CHILE.- Ten candidates competed for the title on Sunday, August 16 in a Channel 13 TV studio and again the winner was chosen through calls from the public. The crown went to 22-year-old Daniella Campos, who reached 945,290 votes. The second place went to Macarena Ramis with 247,090 votes and the third to Paula Villarroel (also Miss Photogenic) with 183,410 votes.
* MISS IRELAND – Vivienne Doyle, a 21-year-old flight attendant from Galway, was crowned Miss Ireland on Tuesday, August 18 at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin, for Miss World ’98 and Miss Universe ’99. The Miss Photogenic award went to Lisa Gilman. The pageant drew 17 contestants from across the island, some representing counties, and others from pubs and clubs.
* MISS CANADA INTERNATIONAL.- The final was held on Friday, August 21 in Toronto. The winner was Miss Stoney Creek (Ontario), Leanne Baird, while the finalists were Miss Ottawa (Ontario), Mireille Eid and Miss Lakeshore (Ontario), Darcie Friest. 28 candidates competed.
* MISS ZAMBIA.- Chisala Chibesa, 20, was crowned at the Hotel Pamodzi in Lusaka. The event, heading for Miss World, was plagued by power outages and was held on Sunday, August 30. The finalists were 19-year-old Esanju Kalopa (to Miss Universe ’99) and 18-year-old Isabella Lloyd.
* MISS TRINIDAD & TOBAGO.- Nicole Dyer was chosen on Saturday, September 5, at the Jean Pierre Complex in Port of Spain, to be the hostess of Miss Universe ’99. The finalists were Jeanette La Caille (to Miss World), and Amanda Jardine (to Miss Caraibe Hibiscus).
* MISS PANAMA.- The contest was held on Saturday, September 5 at the Anayansi Theater of the Atlapa Convention Center in Panama City. The winners were Yamani Saied (for Miss Universe), Lorena Zagía (for Miss World), and Abimelec Rodríguez (for Nuestra Belleza Internacional, an event that was canceled this year and therefore the young woman was sent to Miss Asia Pacific). The finalists were Raquel Rubio and María de los Ángeles Solís. 13 beauties participated.
* MISS HONDURAS.- Wendy Suyapa Rodríguez, Miss San Pedro Sula, won the title of Miss Honduras, among 23 contestants, on Saturday, September 5, to represent the country in Miss International and Miss World ’98. The finalists were Yessi Cedillo (Tela), Emily Posadas (Puerto Cortés), Brenda López (Olanco), and Alina Rivera (La Ceiba). However, at the last minute, the organizer Sandra de Hernández decided that she would send the third runner-up from the previous year to Miss World, Miriam Eloísa Vivas Luna.
* MISS JAMAICA WORLD.- Christine Straw won the Miss Jamaica World title on Saturday, September 5 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston. The finalists were Kerri-Ann Clarke and Marsha Paragonsingh. The former Miss Worlds Cindy Breakspeare and Lisa Hanna attended as special guests.
* MISS UNITED KINGDOM.- 17-year-old Miss Manchester Emmalene McLoughlin won the Miss United Kingdom title at the Empress Ballroom in Winter Gardens, Blackpool, on Monday, September 7. She took home a check for £ 30,000 and a chance to represent her country at Miss World. The finalists were Miss Northern Ireland, Joanne Salley, 22, and Miss Birmingham, Katie Vigers, 19. This year the Mister United Kingdom, which has been held together since 1995, was not held. 20 candidates participated.
* MISS VENEZUELA.- Thirty candidates competed under the dome of the Poliedro de Caracas on Friday, September 11, in a spectacular event led by Maite Delgado and Guillermo Dávila. The winners were Miss Delta Amacuro, Carolina Indriago (also Miss Elegance and Miss Universe ’99), Miss Monagas, Verónica Schneider (also Miss Photogenic and to Miss World ’98) and Miss Miranda, Bárbara Pérez (to Miss International ’99, then dismissed by Osmel Sousa). The finalists were Angélica Guvernez (Amazonas), Olga Fridegotto (Carabobo), Jenniffer Jordán (Cojedes), Dayra Lambis (Paraguaná Peninsula), Johanna Grimaldo (Tachira), Elsy Barrios (Trujillo) and Cinzia Coletta (Zulia). During the African-themed musical number, a jeep almost overturned off stage, endangering the judges among whom were former Miss Universes Maritza Sayalero and Alicia Machado, Pilin León (Miss World ’81) and the actress and ex-Miss Gaby Spanic.
* MISS WORLD NEW ZEALAND – Tanya Hayward won the title on Saturday, September 12 in Auckland. The finalists were Anna Trubuhovic (also Miss Photogenic) and Amy Hawke.
* MISS NEPAL.- Jyoti Pradhan, 19, was crowned Miss Nepal (for Miss World) on Saturday, September 12 among 15 participants. The finalists were Niru Shrestha, Sreejana KC, Prabha Amatya and Kriti Shrestha. After returning from Miss World, Pradhan was fired for failing to fulfill her duties, being replaced by the first runner-up, Niru Shrestha.
* MISS COMMONWEALTH BAHAMAS.- The finals took place on Sunday, September 13 in the Great Room of the Raddison Beach Resort in Cable Beach with 11 competitors. The winner was Nadia Rodgers Albury, and the finalists were Devonia Bonaby and Tamika Thomas. Weeks later, the organization lost the Miss World franchise, which was obtained by the Miss International Bahamas organization, which until the previous year was called “Miss Northern Bahamas”. They chose LeTeasha Ingraham, winner of the event held in the Princess Country Resort Club of Freeport with 19 candidates. LeTeasha had been a semifinalist at the Miss Bahamas for Miss Universe ’99 held on August 16, 1998.
* MISS WORLD MAURITIUS.- The Star Creations company took the rights to Miss World in Mauritius and held the first edition of this event on Saturday, September 19. The winner was 20-year-old Oona Sujaya Fulena from Floreal, who beat 19 other contenders for the beauty title.
* MISS SWITZERLAND- Sonia Grandjean, 19, of French and Uruguayan blood, won the title of Miss Switzerland in Studio One of DRS TV in Zurich on Saturday, September 19, obtaining the pass to Miss World ’98 and Miss Universe ’99 . The finalists were Tiziana Boelsterli, Francesca Jelmolini (Miss Congeniality), Claudia Lässer, Sophie Reuteler and Raphaela Höhn. Karin Lanz was elected Miss Photogenic.
* NUESTRA BELLEZA MEXICO.- Lupita Jones, the Director of the contest, decided that this year she would hold a single event with the 32 representatives of the Mexican geography. The contest, with her and Marco Antonio Regil as hosts, was held on Saturday, September 19 in the Teotihuacán Room of the Acapulco Convention Center in the state of Guerrero. This year two national winners were named: Nuestra Belleza Mexico 1998 was Silvia del Socorro Salgado Cavazos representing Nuevo Leon, who managed to make the first back to back in the history of the contest and who was also selected as Miss Photogenic; and as Nuestra Belleza Mundo Mexico 1998, was crowned Vilma Verónica Zamora Suñol from Guanajuato, having as finalists Edith López Vidaurri (Tabasco), Solange Rivera Astudillo (Quintana Roo) and Luisa Fernanda Díaz Maldonado (Puebla).
* MISS SLOVENIA.- It was held on Sunday, September 20 at the Cankarjev Dome in Ljubljana with 12 finalists out of 131 pre-registered girls. This year there was a public voting by televoting. It was won by Misa Novak, a 22-year-old student from Ptuj, on her way to Miss World. The finalists were Viktorija Strajnar and Tjasa Ciganovic, also Miss Photogenic.
* MISS MALAYSIA WORLD.- Lina Teoh, 22, representing Malacca, was chosen on Friday, September 25 at the Reinassence Hotel in Kuala Lumpur from among 20 finalists.
* MISS WORLD GERMANY.- Sandra Ahrabian, 19, of an Iranian father and resident of Lindau, was crowned, among 16 girls, on Saturday, September 26 at the Broadway nightclub in Mannheim. The finalists were Alexandra Philipps, 23, from Alsbach and Jessica Stahl, 16, from Mannheim.
* MISS WORLD PORTUGAL.- The Miss Portugal organization lost the rights to Miss World and another organization called “Miss World Portugal” held its first edition on Thursday, October 1 on the SIC channel. The winner was Márcia Vasconcelos in the event that was enlivened by Ricky Martin.
* MISS YUGOSLAVIA.- The event was held with 25 beauties on Wednesday, October 7, and in which four winners were chosen for different contests. Jelena Jakovljevic was Miss Yugoslavia (to Miss World) but she also took the Miss Photogenic and Miss Internet titles; Ana Karić (to Miss Universe), Danica Prvulovic (to Top Model of the World) and Jelena Gavrilovic (to Miss Intercontinental).
* MISS SEYCHELLES.- Alvina Grand’Court, 20, from Praslin Island, was crowned Miss Seychelles 1998 on Saturday, October 10 at the Reef Golf Club, competing against nine other contenders. Alvina, the tallest of the contestants at 1.78m, also won the title of Miss Personality, presumably because of her smile and fluency in languages, great advantages to her job as a marketing assistant at Mason ‘s Travel. The finalists were Mandy Havelock and Monica Azemia.
* MISS POLAND.- It was held on Saturday, October 10 in the Congress Hall of the Palace of Culture and Sciences in Warsaw with 20 candidates. The winner was Izabela Opechowska, 18, from the city of Biskupiec (also Miss Elegance and Miss Audience) who was sent to Miss World. The finalists were Katarzyna Pakuła (for Miss Universe ’99), Agnieszka Stolarczyk and Milena Talik.
* MISS CHINESE WORLD.- The Taiwanese crowned Yi-Ju Chen on Sunday, October 11 for Miss World. The finalists were Shu-Ling Chen and Ting-Yi Li.
* MISS CROATIA- The 22-year-old Muslim Lejla Sehovic from Dubrovnik won the Miss Croatia (for Miss World) on Sunday, October 11 at the Kvarner hotel in Opatija. First runner-up was Ivana Petkovic, 17 years old (also Miss Media) and Second runner-up Anda Maric (also Miss Personality). For her part, Olivera Slavica won Miss Photogenic. 24 contestants participated.
* MISS BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA.- Samra Tojaga, 20, from Mostar, was chosen at the Holiday Inn hotel in Sarajevo as Miss Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday, October 17. The finalists were Lejla Damadzic from Tuzla and Irena Bulajic from Banja Luka.
* MISS LEBANON.- Clemence Achkar won the crown on Friday, October 23, among 23 contestants at Beirut Hall in Sin al-Fil, for Miss World ’98 and Miss Universe ’99. The finalists were Katia Keedi and Joelle Khodor. The Miss Personality, Miss Photogenic and Miss Elegance awards went to Joelle Rahme, Cherine Najjar and Reine Sabty respectively. The new Miss Lebanon promised not to wave or shake hands, and to keep her distance from Miss Israel during international competitions.
* MISS NEDERLAND.- It was carried out on Saturday, October 24 in a study of RTL4 with 12 candidates. It was won by Nerena Ruinemans (Overijssel) and the finalists were Angela du Bois (Utrecht, to Miss Europe ’99) and Marlouke van Heijningen (Zuid Holland).
* BEAUTY OF RUSSIA (KRASA ROSSII) .- The last national contest for Miss World was held on Tuesday, October 27 at the Moscow Youth Palace. The winner was 17-year-old Tatyana Mokroushina from Kirov. The finalists were Elena Savitskaya, 19, from Moscow and Yana Lukankova, 22, from St. Petersburg. The Top 5 was completed by Anastasia Melnik, 16, from Yekaterinburg and Natalia Titova, 18, from Kaliningrad. 27 contestants participated.
DID NOT COMPETE:
ERIC MORLEY DID NOT ACCEPT HER.-
The French government got into a dispute with the Miss World organizers, who refused to allow Miss Tahiti to run as a French candidate for that international beauty pageant. France had hoped to send Miss Tahiti to compete as Miss France in Miss World, but contest organizers said “no” on Tuesday, July 28, because Miss Tahiti, Hinano Teanotoga, 24, was not “French enough”. “We recognize that we are French, so if I am not French, what am I?” Said Miss Tahiti, who did not attend Miss World the previous year because the directors preferred to send her to Miss France. Eric Morley, director of the pageant, told the Miss France committee that Tahiti, in French Polynesia, was viewed as a separate country. “Tahiti, as well as Macau, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, etc., etc., are considered separate countries in terms of Miss World,” said Britain’s Morley.
The problems began when Eric Morley told the Miss France organizers that he was rejecting an application from Miss Tahiti to participate in the Miss World pageant. “I’m sorry, but we’re waiting for Miss France, not Miss Tahiti. I’m sorry to say the answer is no,” Morley said. But France’s Overseas Territories Minister Jean-Jacques Queyranne responded that “Tahiti is the main island of French Polynesia and therefore is part of the French Republic,” adding that Morley had clearly been “wrong. informed”. For her part, Genevieve de Fontenay said furiously that Morley “knew nothing about geography” … But she, very stubborn, did not want to send the reigning Miss France to Miss World but to Miss Universe and decided then that she would send to Miss World the brunette from Martinique, Véronique Caloc, the 1st. runner-up of Miss France, which was not from Europe properly, but also from a French overseas territory and Morley ended up accepting her.
SEYCHELLES PROMOTES MISS WORLD IN SOUTH AFRICA.-
The Seychelles government brought Diana Hayden to South Africa on Wednesday, August 12 to a party backed by Laurent Perrier to promote the 1998 Miss World contest under the slogan “The most beautiful girls in the world, on the most beautiful islands in the world”. The party, which attracted a strong contingent of the Johannesburg press and members of the business community, coincided with Miss Hayden’s appearance on a major lifestyle television show called “Front Row” which was broadcast live on across the country on Thursday the 13th on M-Net. The program comprised a live interview with Hayden and featured her in a short travel diary that highlighted the Seychelles ‘natural treasures and promoted the islands’ environmental conservation efforts. At the Wednesday night party held at the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, Gilbert Pool, one of the organizers of the contest in Seychelles, introduced Hayden as the Seychelles Ambassador for the Environment. Miss World, who was accompanied by Julia Morley, said that Seychelles had captured her heart and since her remarkable career as Miss World had started there, she would always cherish the islands and the people of Seychelles. One of the special guests at the party was Kerishnie Naicker, the reigning Miss South Africa, who would represent her country at the Miss World pageant at the Berjaya Mahe Beach Hotel lagoon on November 26.
During her short stay in South Africa, Miss World was also expected to do a fashion and beauty photoshoot with ELLE magazine. Meanwhile, in the Seychelles, the show’s executive producer, Francis Savy, hosted a London television technical crew visiting the competition site to begin work on concept and set planning and other production logistics. Preparations were already underway in Paris for the launch event that would take place on the night of November 5, before the contestants’ trip to Seychelles the following day. Referring to the pageant, Gilbert Pool, Head of Public Relations and Communications for Miss World 1998 and special advisor to the President of the Seychelles, said: “We are delighted to host this international event and we will use it to show what our people are doing. doing in the field of environmental conservation tourism and we will promote the Seychelles as one of the most attractive offshore investment centers in the world. “The Seychelles have two of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, the unique palm forests of Vallee de Mai and Aldabra, home to the largest population of giant turtles in the world. 50% of the land area of the 115 islands of the archipelago was being promoted as the “Last Sanctuary” under strict conservation laws. But the most ambitious project was to build a special millennium monument called “Chronos” that would be a symbol of time and humanity dedicated to the world by the Seychelles.
MISS WORLD 1998’S CHANGES ARE ANNOUNCED.-
At a press conference held at the Café de Paris in London on Tuesday, September 8, Eric and Julia Morley announced the launch of the contest’s “New Look” and changes in the format in the forty-eighth edition of the Miss World pageant, which would be held for the second consecutive year in the Seychelles on Thursday, November 26. It was also attended by the reigning Miss World, India´s Diana Hayden.The beauty pageant, once mocked as a degrading “cattle market” by feminists, would be given a “face lift” and given a dose of power. Many women criticized the parade in bathing suits as something that denigrated them and, apparently, the organizers agreed with that. The parade in swimming trunks and high heels was removed from the competition to keep up with the times, but passionate men could still admire the contestants as they play volleyball on the beach. But some girls disagreed with the measure. “Swimsuits are fine, bikinis are good,” said Miss Finland, Maaret Nousiainen, a 22-year-old TV host. “But I wouldn’t parade in underwear.” How could you argue against that?! Irish pop heartthrob Ronan Keating, lead singer of Boyzone, would host the contest in the Seychelles. The Morleys also announced that they had received an offer of £ 300,000 to host the 2001 pageant in neighboring Ireland.
For his part, Francis Savy of the Miss World Committee in Seychelles, also introduced the representatives of the television software firm Initial to the press. Savy noted that this year’s Miss World pageant, the second to be held in the Seychelles, would better harness the potential of such a global event. He said that was the reason why they had hired Initial, based in London, to produce the event, as the company was known worldwide through programs such as Music Awards. He noted that this year’s water-themed contest would see contestants arrive at their hotel on the Cat Cocos and Sea Shell ships and that the show would be high-tech. As for the final being on a Thursday, Savy said it was difficult to get prime time on Saturdays, since elsewhere that night used to be monopolized by sporting events. Initial representatives Hasmed Hamilton and Steve Nolland told the press that their goal was to refresh the show, that this year it would be shorter, at just one hour and forty minutes, to maximize the potential of the event.
Hamilton noted that the nearly 50-year-old Miss World pageant had lately been a “sleeping giant” and that its association with the Seychelles would strengthen it. A spokesperson said the contest “had become old-fashioned and sexist. But this show would be much more upbeat and fun.” Two of the judges would be former basketball star Magic Johnson from the United States and Canadian Jacques Villeneuve, who was the 1997 Formula One champion. The 1998 Miss World show, which would take place on a 900-square-meter stage that It would be implanted in the artificial lagoon of the Berjaya Mahe Beach Resort, it would be, according to the spokespersons of Initial, filmed “by the best team of 100 people who come from the best television companies in the world”. To take advantage of the organization of the event in Seychelles, Savy said that they were inviting several foreign journalists and program producers for the country to benefit from a series of articles and programs in the international media over a period of one year.
MISS WORLD BROADCAST ON TERRESTRIAL TV IN THE UK.-
Organizers of Miss World reported on Friday, October 9, that the contest would once again be broadcast in terrestrial TV in the United Kingdom through Channel 5 and thanks in large part to the efforts of the Seychelles to re-energize and modernize the program, and the credibility and influence of the television production company Initial in the market. Initial CEO Malcolm Gerrie made the jubilant announcement to a large group of program buyers from around the world in one of the television industry’s largest annual program markets, MIPCOM, in Cannes, in the south of France. At a special luncheon hosted by Seychelles and Initial’s program marketing company, GEM, at the Noga Hilton, Gerrie said that the new look and direction of the program had attracted a lot of new attention around the world, even in markets that traditionally had bought it. Gerrie summed up this year’s event by saying: “With a show featuring the world’s best artists, judges and famous presenters and the incomparable backdrop of the most beautiful islands in the world, the Miss World 1998 event in Seychelles will be radically different and unique, and this fantastic event will be organized for many, many years to come”.
As you may recall, Miss World was broadcast on the BBC until 1979. British channel ITV bailed it out for a few years before abandoning it, after which the event moved overseas and eventually ended up on the UK SKY ONE cable network. Gilbert Pool, PR and communications director for the contest who represented Seychelles at the Cannes luncheon, along with executive producer Francis Savy, said: “The moment Seychelles took over the show last year, we realized that we had to give the event a new look and sense. We managed a few small touches last year, but when we managed to convince Initial this year of our intentions, we knew we were in the real business of turning the event into a TV show of modern and real lifestyle”. “If we go back to terrestrial technology in the UK this year, it is the result of the dynamic combination of Seychelles and Malcolm Gerrie’s Initial: the former with the vision and conviction of what should and could be done, the latter with the professional knowledge in business”. GEM and Initial had already run full-color ads in major MIPCOM publications announcing “the most beautiful event of the year” in Seychelles. Although Channel 5 was the UK’s newest channel, the organizers said they had come up with the most enthusiastic promotional package. “We are delighted that our partner in bringing the event to the UK is a fresh, modern and forward-thinking company,” said Pool.
BEAUTY QUEEN WITH DRUG’S PROBLEMS.-
The newly crowned Miss Mauritius would retain her title and participate in November’s Miss World in Seychelles despite revelations that she had been convicted of smoking cannabis. Oona Fulena, 20, was crowned on September 19, after which the newspaper “L’Express” reported that she had been arrested and fined MR300 in March for smoking a “joint” with friends. Miss World President Julia Morley, who was alerted to this by local organizers, ruled that Oona Fulena could retain her title as removing her would amount to inflicting a second punishment for “a minor offense.” Ms Morley said, however, that any entrant found to be using illicit drugs during the Miss World pageant would not be allowed to participate.
BIG SCANDAL IN CROATIA.-
On Friday, October 16, the Miss Croatia organizers dethroned their new beauty queen, claiming there were irregularities in her election. But the case had broader political implications because the winner, Lejla Sehovic, 22, was Muslim. Her election sparked some public outcry and brought to the surface the tense relations between the mostly Catholic Croats and Muslims who fought a war in neighboring Bosnia in 1993 and where deep bitterness persisted over ethnic conflicts that erupted after the breakup of Yugoslavia. For her part, Miss Croatia said that she wanted to press charges of religious discrimination against the organizers of the pageant. “If I had known that the ‘correct’ religion was needed, I would never have participated,” she said. The organizer of the contest, Milan Seckovic, told in a press conference that Sehovic had been dethroned after the discovery of “errors in the work of the jury and a invalid ballot”. He said Sehovic would have to hand over the crown to runner-up Ivana Petkovic. When asked if Sehovic’s Muslim background had anything to do with the matter, Mr. Seckovic said “I reject with disgust all the malicious interpretations and political overtones that have been associated with this case.” But newspapers reported that some organizers and officials of the nationalist government were going to be concerned if a Muslim woman would win such a high-profile contest.
For his part, Eric Morley called for a new vote from the judges, saying it was “below contempt” to suggest that ethnic motives were at stake. “There are always groups that use any controversy to further their cause,” he said. To avoid such speculation, the world licensee organized a new selection, at Morley’s request, on Sunday, October 25 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Zagreb, between only Lejla and Ivana, which would be broadcast live on Croatian TV and where the same judges of October 11 would decide who was the true queen. However, Sehovic told the press that she may not attend this second vote. Meanwhile, Milan Seckovic exchanged furious words with human rights critics who said Sehovic had been dismissed for anti-Muslim biases. “The reasons are political and chauvinistic,” accused Ivan Zvoni-Cicak, director of the Croatian Committee for Human Rights. “We are dealing with a flagrant violation of human rights.” And even he called for the Miss World pageant to be boycotted worldwide. On the other hand, the foreign embassies in Zagreb presented a complaint to the government of President Franjo Tudjman. Actress Vanessa Redgrave was one of the celebrities who joined the protest. She was forbidden, along with other personalities, to enter the hall where the new election took place. “This goes straight to the top, and we will soon find out who was behind it,” Ms Redgrave said. “It is a horrible and shameful discrimination.”
Finally, Sehovic decided to compete and spoke about the need to break down ethnic barriers. She lost to Ivana Petkovic, a Catholic woman who only described a visit she had made to the Lourdes shrine, but that she received the most votes. During Sunday’s broadcast, the judges announced that they had voted 12-5 to name Ivana Petkovic as the new winner after reviewing a tape from the original contest. Four members of the judges, who previously supported Sehovic, refused to appear in this new vote. Lejla Sehovic left in tears after the decision was announced. “I mean that this was a trap, that the new vote was a sham,” she later told the Vecemji List newspaper. Sehovic refused to hand over the crown and threatened to sue the organizers. Milan Seckovic denied that politics played a role in the decision to appoint a new Miss Croatia to Miss World. He said he had approached Miss World organizer Eric Morley for advice on alleged election irregularities, and Morley had recommended a re-ballot. However, Lejla disputed the regularity of the vote this time.
The controversy surrounding this year’s Miss Croatia pageant ended on Wednesday, October 28, with Eric Morley’s Solomonic decision giving both girls the opportunity to compete in the Miss World pageant. The compromise was that the Muslim woman who had been stripped of her title would go to the Miss World pageant this year, while Ivana Petkovic, who won the second round and had no Muslim heritage, would go the following year. Lejla Sehovic, the young woman who was crowned Miss Croatia on October 11, only to have her title revoked days later, said she accepted Morley’s offer to represent Croatia at this year’s Miss World in the Seychelles. “We are aware of some of the harm of two girls sharing the crown as Miss Croatia,” she said. For his part, Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic criticized the event organizers, led by Milan Seckovic, for getting the title to go to runner-up Ivana Petkovic. “The events surrounding the Miss Croatia pageant have done great political damage to Croatia,” Granic said. “The organizer has immediate responsibility.”
Sehovic impressed her compatriots with her courage and intelligence, and after being dethroned, even the state-controlled media were on her side. But although Miss Sehovic behaved with great dignity, independent newspapers reported that President Tudjman had privately said that he was displeased that a Muslim woman could represent his country. A top Croatian television executive was quoted as saying: “We do not intend to take a Muslim woman around the world to advertise ourselves. A Croat will never be represented by a Muslim.” Finally, Sehovic’s cause had turned into an international scandal.
PROGRESS IN SEYCHELLES.-
Seychelles took a very visible step towards the realization of Miss World with the laying of the stage foundations in the sea next to the beach of the Berjaya Mahe Beach Hotel on Saturday, October 17. At the same time, the organizers announced that tickets would go on sale from Monday the 19th. Tickets for the show would cost SR1,500 and tickets for the gala dinner would cost SR1,000 for Seychelles residents, which it made the whole package SR5,000 for a couple. This would include a welcome cocktail, the final of the event and an extravagant gala dinner, which the organizers still kept secret. Gilbert Pool, Head of Public Relations and Communication for the event, said: “Considering that it will be a much better show and coronation party than last year, we keep prices pretty close to last year, so we stay within reach of local fans”. “The show itself will be a grander affair. Buyers have been kept in reasonable numbers to allow several hundred young people to stand right in front of the stage to create the desired audience effect. The young crowd, which will consist of the dancers from the welcome party, as well as several hundred schoolchildren, will stand in front of the public area and cheer according to the TV show script. VIPs and those paying for their tickets will sit on a covered raised podium at a height enough for them to have a good view out of the animated hands of the young people”.
“We must always remember that the most important thing is to get the desired television program for millions of viewers around the world. Therefore, we have to structure the design of the stage and the seats according to the requirements of the television production. Therefore, the stage has to be far enough out at sea to allow us to create the full aquatic effect with perspectives and lights”, added Pool. “We also have to give the maximum leeway to the 20 cameras that we will have that night, 12 cameras more than last year!” Mr. Pool added: “All of this year’s production is geared towards making the show the best ever. It will be contemporary, fast-moving, exciting, but still with ample space to project all the Seychelles images and messages”. The foundation of the stage was expected to be completed in the next few days, with everything ready 10 days before the Finals, in time for rehearsals. Tickets for the show were on sale at the Youth Enterprise Seychelles (YES) office.
AN EVENT WITHOUT LOCAL ARTISTS.-
It was also known that this year there would be no performances by local artists in the Miss World 1998 contest. The reasons given: that the program was not aimed at the local audience and that it was a marketing tool to show Seychelles abroad, but Those excuses were difficult for Seychelles to understand. It seemed more likely that the local audience would be more interested in foreign artists, while a foreign audience might appreciate something from the Seychelles. The purpose of holding any international event was to show as much of the Seychelles, its beaches, its surroundings, its people and its culture as possible. In recent times, when the Miss World pageant was held in Sun City, South Africa, about half of the show was done with South African artists. The same thing happened when the event moved to Bangalore, India, where Indian singers, dancers and other entertainers provided much of the entertainment. In both cases, the artists involved were not well known internationally, but through them, the world was able to see a sample of their culture, in addition to getting to know better the people and other aspects of the host country. In Seychelles, however, things were being done differently. Jenny de Letourdie, who won by competing against dozens of other artists from the Francophone states, was allowed 2 minutes of the 2-hour contest the previous year. She very well could have brought the Seychelles name to a foreign audience, and she was not the only one. The contest was an excellent opportunity to project the Sega dance or “contra-danse”. Since the stage, technicians, artists and presenters were all foreigners, the Seychelles’ participation seemed to be limited only to welcome celebrations. With such a small participation, it seemed to frustrate the whole purpose of holding the contest there again…
FIRST STOP: PARIS!!.-
The candidates had to first reach the capital of love, the city of Paris, for the first time in history. The contestants from 93 countries were due to arrive on November 3 and 4 in the French capital. Initially, 96 girls were expected to participate, but, as was almost customary, some of them were withdrawn by their organizations ahead of time, because they could not cover the costs of participation. They were Miss ALBANIA (Aldona Elezi) and Miss ICELAND (Gudbjorg Sigridur Hermannsdóttir). In the case of the latter, the Icelandic organizers preferred to send her only to Miss International in Japan whose franchise was free. On the other hand, Miss IRAQ (Ban Kadret) was not accepted by Morley due to discrepancies with the Iraqi organizers and because of the sanctions that the UN had imposed on that country. Of the 93 confirmed candidates, 85 arrived in Paris. In the end Miss BANGLADESH (Shaila Simi), Miss BELIZE (Viola Jeffery), Miss BONAIRE (Julina Felida), Miss LATVIA (Evija Rucevska), Miss NAMIBIA (Retha Reinders), and Miss SURINAME (Farah Breeveld) could not arrive due to financial and visa problems. One more competitor, Miss HONDURAS (Miriam Eloísa Vivas Luna), 20, was expected at the last minute but it was feared that she had been a victim of Hurricane Mitch, as the organization had lost all contact with her. But Miss Honduras was not dead, she was partying! For some reason of which no more details were known, the young woman did not attend Miss World and in her place traveled shortly after to the Miss Asia Pacific pageant that was held in Pampanga, Philippines, on December 5. For her part, Miss NIGERIA (Temitayo Osobu) could not travel to Paris but she would arrive directly to the Seychelles after avoiding visa problems.
Some countries changed candidates at the last minute. Miss ESTONIA (Karin Laasmae) declined to participate after winning the Miss Globe crown on July 26 in Istanbul, Turkey, and having to fulfill commitments of that organization. Her participation in Miss World was then postponed to 1999. Therefore, the organizers decided to send Ly Jürgenson, who had participated in Miss Estonia in 1996, in her place. For some reason the Czechs decided to send their queen, Katerina Stocesova , to the Queen of the World contest in Germany, an event that was held on November 22, instead of Miss World, being replaced in the Morley contest by her first runner-up, Alena Seredova. And in Guatemala, local organizers had registered Karen Edith Wellmann Doersch, who at the last minute was replaced by Glenda Iracema Cifuentes Ruíz. Both had competed in the Miss Guatemala (for Miss Universe) in 1998 and 1997, respectively. Miss Venezuela, Verónica Schneider, arrived with 5 suitcases where she packed her baby blue Richard Febles day dress and Angel Sánchez’s white evening dress.
The Miss World pageant would be a little less mundane this year, and beauty queens around the world were up in arms. When told that this year’s Miss World pageant would not feature the pageant in a traditional swimsuit with high heels, the contestants were shocked by the competition’s politically correct facelift and contested the decision. “If this is a beauty pageant, we have to look like beauties,” stammered Lorena Zagía, 22, an aerobics teacher from Panama. “The swimsuit competition is absolutely necessary,” she said, echoing the views of many of the 85 candidates who attended the charity dinner in Paris, the first scheduled event on the Miss World calendar. Sitting amidst beauties getting their hair and makeup done, Jyoti Prahdan said there were so many protesters when she was crowned Miss Nepal that police had to baton the crowd to break it up. “I don’t see any problem with bathing suits,” the 19-year-old Kathmandu computer engineering student confessed. “We did not use them in the competition in Nepal, but we should for Miss World.” The image of the pageant was not helped by the mass arrests and riots prior to the 1996 event in Bangalore, where Indian feminists had threatened to blow themselves up in protest. But after a remake aimed at showing that the pageant could combine beauty and intelligence, this year’s competition was expected to draw 1.4 billion viewers in more than 130 countries around the world, organizers said. Miss World wasn’t really eliminating the traditional staple of beauty pageants altogether. As part of this “90s facelift”, the girls would perform in a round of beach sports “Bay Watch” style and what better clothes to wear on that occasion than bathing suits?
The launch of the 48th edition of Miss World took place in Paris, on Thursday, November 5, on the cruise “Le Paquebot” on the famous river Seine. The main feature of the evening: a charity auction, in which gifts from all over the world, brought by the contestants, would be auctioned by one of the best auctioneers in Paris, Maitre Pierre Cornette de Saint-Cyr. The highlight would be the auction of a beachfront land on Desroches Island, Seychelles. The funds raised in the auction would be split between charities supported by the London-based Variety Club International, a French VIP charity and the Seychelles President’s Children’s Fund. On the afternoon of Friday, November 6, the girls departed from the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris for the paradisiacal Seychelles Islands, in the Indian Ocean, aboard a specially chartered Air Seychelles flight.
ARRIVAL IN SEYCHELLES.-
After thirteen hours of flight, the candidates arrived at Mahe Island on Saturday, November 7 at 9:40 in the morning, an hour late. The aircraft rolled to the side of the runway at the Mahe International Airport, where the contestants landed directly on the beach and where they were received in warm “Creole” style. The girls sincerely expressed their feelings about what they experienced. Miss World President Mrs. Julia Morley quoted them expressing great admiration for the country even before she left the Air Seychelles Boeing 767 plane in which she arrived from Paris. She knew the fact that they were overwhelmed by the reception they received, saying that they did not expect such a welcome. When they got off the plane to join the traditional dancers on the beach, the overwhelmed participants went straight for the coconut juice or danced to the music of the Happy Islanders that invaded the venue, led by members of the welcome party.
Miss India, Annie Thomas, quickly learned to pat the air and hold her waist under the guidance of Mandy Havelock, as they danced “Lev ou lanmen anler, bouz, bouz dan ou leren”. Some ‘jamalac’ fruit varieties weren’t as popular with some of the participants, and a couple of the girls said they were a bit bland. But while some girls were curiously tasting the fruits, the welcoming party led them to the two boats, “Cat Cocos” and “Sea Shell”, in which they would sail to the island dock in Victoria before boarding the buses that took them to be taken to the Berjaya Mahe Beach Resort where they would be staying. Some participants walked hand in hand with the members of the welcome party. Miss Slovakia, Karolina Cicatkova, described the Seychelles as very charming people, especially Cathrina Dupres, who taught her to dance to the local melodies that were being played. On board the ship “Cat Cocos”, Miss Kazakhstan, Anna Kirpota, saw a coconut-de-mer nut on board and while asking what it was, after admitting that she had never seen or heard about these nuts before, she posed for pictures holding the nut in an adorable way. Many other participants also admitted that they had just found out about those nuts. When they set sail, many of the girls admitted that they were sailing for the first time. Chisala Chibesa of Zambia, a landlocked country, cited the countries that protected the nation from the sea, while Miss Botswana yelled “shark!” every time she saw a good size fish in the sea. At least five of the forty girls aboard the “Cat Cocos” got dizzy, but they defied the experience, saying, nonetheless, that they loved it. Miss Seychelles, Alvina Grand’Court, proved to be the favorite of press photographers, but every time she paused, many other girls joined her in the glare of the flashes. At the inter-island pier where they disembarked and along the roads leading to their hotel, the contestants were warmly received and acclaimed by groups of schoolchildren, and a special welcome awaited them at the hotel. The Port Glaud nursery school students presented each beauty queen with a bouquet of flowers collected from their own gardens.
The contestants were preparing for the big event on the 26th. On Monday, November 9, a group of girls came out for their filming sessions at waterfront locations throughout Mahe. A team led by Ian Stewart, from Initial, producer of the event, was with the girls in areas around Beau Vallon for their filming sessions. For four days, the participants made their filming both in Mahe and in Praslin and La Digue. In those days Miss Nigeria arrived completing the group of 86 participants. A large contingent of Filipino Indian Ocean Tuna (IOT) workers showed up at the Berjaya Mahe Beach Hotel on Tuesday, November 10 to give Miss Philippines Rachel Soriano a joyous and exciting surprise. Rachel, 23, who had her sights set on a career in diplomacy, was about to begin preparations for a shoot when she heard that the group of workers had gathered at the hotel entrance. Her compatriots approached in procession with gifts and flowers in her hand and hugged her in her hall, leaving her crying with joy. Many of them had brought cameras to photograph her and be photographed with her. Rachel said: “This was one of the happiest days of my life. I will never forget this day.” On her side, Miss Ireland, Vivienne Doyle, paid a courtesy visit to her fellow citizens ‘exiled’ in the Seychelles, the Irish Catholic sisters of the Convent of St Joseph of Clunny in Victoria. The blonde, who is a flight attendant, posed for a souvenir photo with seven of the eight Irish nuns at the convent and chatted with them. In total there were 32 nuns in the Convent. Among the sisters of Saint Joseph of Clunny was the Irish sister Jude Burke, who was also the main secretary of the Ministry of Education. It is worth mentioning that KONIKA, one of the sponsors, gave disposable cameras to the participants.
Seychelles beauty queen Alvina Grand’Court accompanied a group of Misses this year to her home island of Praslin for a promotional shoot on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Anse Lazio. Excited and happy to be home, Alvina said that being in Paris, where she met the other contestants before flying to Seychelles, was a wonderful experience, but the cold winds and endless noise made her miss her island. “Coming off the plane I felt great with the sand under my toes and the sun on my back, I was happy to be home,” she said. Alvina’s proud father, Mr. Luc Grand’Court, was eager to see his daughter as he unloaded his ship “Praslin Hero” at the Victoria Pier, the same place where the girls disembarked from the two boats in which they had traveled from the airport. “I am very proud to be able to host the girls in my homeland. They are all very relaxed and enjoy daily activities. We all respect each other’s point of view and are always exchanging ideas. I know that only after three days they will become friends for life”, said Alvina. The visit to Praslin was included in the Miss World calendar where Alvina would have the opportunity to show her new friends where she was born. “I have not been home for a month and I always hope to return to the tranquility and beauty of my island. Now the girls will be able to see my real island,” she said. “I think Miss World is giving me the opportunity to share something special with each representative, and I hope they learn to love this little place that I call home,” added Alvina.
On Thursday, November 12, the organizers announced that Miss Honduras would definitely not participate and they still feared the worst after Hurricane Mitch passed through that Central American country. The following days were dedicated to rehearsals. Preparations for the Miss World ’98 pageant were ahead of schedule thanks to the diligence and discipline of Seychelles workers, the executive director of the event’s organizing committee, Francis Savy, said on Saturday, November 14. Giving reporters an update on preparations during a press conference, Savy praised the Seychelles and foreign team for their hard work and discipline. Savy said there has been a noticeable change for the better in the attitude of Seychelles workers compared to last year when the event was first held in the Islands. This, he explained, together with the experience accumulated the previous year, was a great boost for the organization this year, allowing preparations to go ahead of schedule. On the event itself, he noted that tickets had been sold out, but added that reservations were still being accepted as some additional venues could be installed and the possibility of some cancellations. Savy announced that living basketball legend Earvin Magic Johnson and French model Chrystele Saint Louis Augustin had withdrawn from the panel and said more information on the judges would be released later that week. It was also reported that the SBC would have to pay to cover the ‘Miss World’ live on November 26. The company that owned the marketing rights to the event was charging SBC for the broadcast, in contrast to the previous year when coverage was allowed free as a privilege for the host country. Managing Director Ibrahim Afif confirmed that SBC would pay. He said it would be only “a small amount”, but this could be an understatement. He declined to give the figure. He added that the corporation was selling advertising space to the organizers and therefore it was appropriate for SBC to pay.
DESROCHES ISLAND AUCTION CRITICIZED.-
As part of the 1998 Miss World advertising campaign, exclusive land on Desroches Island was auctioned off at a celebrity gala in Paris. Part of the money raised was to be donated to charities and the auction was heralded as the highlight of the evening that had attracted large numbers of entrepreneurs from Europe and America. There were indications that the auction had not been a success. The proprietary land was sold to a French businessman for just $ 60,000. Similar-size properties in Desroches had sold the previous year for at least three times that amount. A quarter-acre parcel in north Mahe was advertised that week for R398,000, another mark on the barometer of land prices. As a trick to attract attention to Miss World, the auction fell through. Speaking on TV, Mr. Gilbert Pool indicated that he had rigged the process in favor of the French businessman because it would bring more long-term profits than rival German bidders. The lightness with which an adviser to the president admitted on national television the manipulation of an auction supposedly held in front of the international business community was shocking and capable of sending the worst kind of signals.
VISIT TO THE ISLAND OF ALDABRA.-
After participating in an environmental event on land, eighty-six schoolchildren accompanied the Miss World contestants on Monday, November 16, on a guided flyby of the Aldabra World Heritage site, one of the unspoiled natural treasures of the Seychelles. For the first time in history, the first commercial aircraft that got so close to Aldabra Atoll circled the UNESCO world heritage site for fifteen minutes with 86 enthusiastic Miss World ’98 contestants and a similar number of students from Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. On board the special flight were Vice President James Michel, who was also the Minister of the Environment, and the Minister of Education, Danny Faure. Shortly after take-off, the special passengers were able to watch movies from the Aldabra Atoll, showing both the marine life and other life forms on the islands. One of the films, titled Aldabra, was filmed by renowned diver John Boyle who was on board the flight. Boyle, who was in the Seychelles to participate in the ongoing underwater festival SUBIOS, praised the approach to the environment as fabulous, saying that hardly any other country in the world would show such remarkable initiative. For their part, the schoolchildren had gathered on Saturday at the International Conference Center for an information session conducted by the Minister of Education Danny Faure, the Head of Public Relations for Miss World Gilbert Pool, the executive director of the Foundation of Seychelles Islands (SIF) Lindsay Chong-Seng, and marine biologist Jeanne Mortimer. Mr. Pool reminded the students that the idea of Seychelles hosting the Miss World was not simply to bring the most beautiful girls to the islands but, more importantly, to also let them know that protecting the environment and the well-being of the population, personified in the Goldcard concept, were an integral part of the country’s landscape.
The excursion was presented under the title “Miss World Goes Green”. On this chartered Air Seychelles flight, each child sat next to a contestant and was given information about the atoll, its unique flora and fauna, its populations of green turtles and giant tortoises. A party was also held for the children and the contestants aboard the aircraft as it toured the magnificent atoll and the reef platform that covers 154 square kilometers. During the trip, the contestants also received a lecture from Chong-Seng and Ms. Mortimer. On the way to Aldabra, Air Seychelles Captain Francois Jackson constantly drew the attention of beauty queens, children and other passengers whenever an island was seen. The beauty queens and students, 52 of whom were members of the respective schools’ environmental clubs, walked up to the windows and photographed the breathtaking, panoramic views of various islands as the Boeing 767 aircraft passed by. The kids were great tour guides for the beauty queens. Excitement and curiosity were momentarily replaced by a sense of adventure as the aircraft plunged toward the atoll. After moments of increased engine noise, an instant of sudden seemingly unpleasant silence from previously noisy aircraft engines made the younger girls freak out for a while, and the roles between the beauties and the students were reversed, where the Misses took over the care of the young people. “What’s going on?” Asked little Vanessa Rachel tearfully. “Nothing, honey, everything is fine,” replied Miss Peru, Mariana Larrabure, grabbing Vanessa and gently guiding her to her seat.
The huge plane soared around the atoll for a good and much appreciated fifteen minutes, during which more pictures were taken, using newly supplied “disposable” cameras sponsored by the Konica company. During the return flight, there was a celebration when the Air Seychelles crew ran back with gifts for both the children and the participants. Each beauty queen received a copy of the color picture book called Aldabral. The children on board received various gifts and a special lunch. They also exchanged personal gifts, cards, and addresses with the participants. An excited Miss Gibraltar, Melanie Soiza, said that she had found a new pen pal Pamela Lablache from La Digue School who had earned her seat on the plane by excelling in social studies. Pamela, 12, said that Soiza was very nice and beautiful. Miss Argentina, Natalie González, considered herself the most fortunate to have found 11-year-old Camilla Numez David, who spoke Spanish and English eloquently. The party spirit reached its peak when passengers decided to celebrate the birthdays of the President of Seychelles, France Albert Rene, Miss Sweden, Jessica Almenäs and Miss Singapore, Grace Chay. With accordions and guitars, Joe Samy and brothers John and Cyril Vital wowed everyone with “Return to Seychelles” as passengers returned to Mahe. The contest participants said it had been a fairly memorable day in their lives, and so did the students, most of whom flew for the first time.
For their part, each of the 86 Miss World ’98 participants gave away books, videos or audio cassettes from their respective country in honor of the enthusiastic participation in the special welcome that students from all Seychelles gave to the contestants to their arrival in that country. The materials, representing environmental and cultural aspects of the girls’ homeland, were presented to the Minister of Education, Mr. Danny Faure, at the International Airport by Miss World President Julia Morley. She said the girls had been touched by the students ‘gesture, adding that it also reflected the friendly spirit of the students’ parents and the dedication of their teachers. Upon receiving the items, which included some compact discs, Minister Faure promised to find a special place to put the gifts, where the students would have access to the material.
ERIC MORLEY TALKS ABOUT THE GREAT IMPROVEMENTS.-
Miss World founder and president Eric Morley said Tuesday, November 17, that the organization of the pageant was very well done last year, but this year it had been even better. Morley, who was speaking from the Berjaya Mahe Beach Resort, where the contest was taking place, said that even the weather was very different from last year, when it rained almost every day in the run-up to the finals. He said that, as a vacation spot, Seychelles would benefit from television advertising showing the country as sunny. Noting that the beachwear activity would no longer be an integral part of the main event, Morley said the modern trend was to emphasize the intellect of the participants and not physical beauty as in past events. He said the ideal was to focus on issues such as the environment and charity, as they gave participants the opportunity to learn. Regarding the various countries that were represented last year but were not represented this year, Morley noted that with such a large number of female candidates, fluctuations could be expected with respect to certain countries, noting that for example, Thailand, whose representative had shone last year, it would not be represented this time. He said that the case of Honduras had been well understood, as the country had suffered a natural calamity recently. However, Morley said that he could not explain each particular case as the national selection was conducted exclusively by the licensees of each country, and the Miss World organizers only received the names of the contestants who emerged as winners in their respective countries. Morley said that Mr. World, the 3rd. Men’s event after two previously held in Turkey and Portugal, would take place next year at a location to be determined.
INVITED GUEST STARS.-
On Wednesday, the 18th, it was confirmed that the British singer born in Jamaica, Errol Brown, would be in the opening of the contest with the candidates and that the Irish group BoyZone, where the compere Ronan Keating participates, was also part of the show. Two of the members of the judges, the Canadian Formula One racer Jacques Villeneuve and the Venezuelan ex-Miss World Pilin Leon, would arrive in the Seychelles on Monday, November 23 and then, the next day, Errol Brown would arrive along with Boyzone and two more judges, Jonah Lomu and Mica Paris. According to the executive producer of Miss World Seychelles, Francis Savy, the choice of Errol Brown together with BoyZone, would contribute to give a new look and feel to the event, which was an advantage in the search to re-energize and modernize the pageant. It was expected that this year’s Miss World, from the Mahe Beach hotel, would be broadcast in such a way that it would become a major televised event, so that not only the Mahe Beach audience could enjoy the splendor of the show, but also the more than one billion viewers around the world, who would be watching the program on TV. This was announced by Malcolm Gerrie, Managing Director of Initial, Britain’s leading entertainment television production company, who was behind organizing the show for this year’s event. The company was best known for producing shows like The Brit (music) Awards, The Pepsi Chart Show, and The Three Tenors in Los Angeles. Speaking to the official media, Gerrie, who had just arrived in the Islands, said that establishing the Miss World contest in Seychelles had been a great challenge, as the country lacked the proper infrastructure and the necessary technical facilities, compared to other countries they had served. As a result, they had to bring in a lot more people and equipment. He added that the demand for this operation had led them to hire the largest aircraft in the world, the Antonov, in order to bring their unit and foreign transmission equipment.
The television company itself had a team of nearly 150 members from the UK, working to put together the show. “Despite these initial limitations and given that this year’s stage is being built at sea, we are pleased to announce that we are on schedule and everything is going very well,” said Gerrie. He noted that regardless of his desire to make Miss World a very attractive, bright, sophisticated and classy world event, they had to be realistic with the changes that were expected to occur. For example, one of the main opening touches the company was adding to the show was that the girls would be seen in context with what they were wearing. This included wearing a bathing suit to the beach and sandals when dancing on stage. Gerrie also pointed out that technically the stage had been designed in such a way that the cameras could obtain different angles from various positions, to give the show a larger dimension. It was also reported that on Sunday, the 22nd, there would be a special luncheon dedicated to the press on Round Island that would depart from the Barbaron Hotel. The judges were taken to know different points of Mahe, an ecological tourism visit, where they even saw the banana plantations. Pilin Leon, Miss World 1981, had arrived in Seychelles, after many hours of flight, with her husband, as had Errol Brown with his wife Ginette from Mauritius and Ronan Keating with his newly married wife Yvonne Connolly.
ARRIVAL OF DIANA HAYDEN.-
Outgoing Miss World Diana Hayden arrived in Mahe on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, and said that her one-year reign had made her more thoughtful and more concerned about people’s feelings. “It has changed me tremendously, I have learned to care more about people’s feelings… I see people who are not well off, poor children… you feel more humble,” she told reporters upon arrival at the International Airport of Seychelles at Pointe Larue. She was greeted by Miss Seychelles 1997, Michelle Lane, who was a personal friend of hers, and Air Seychelles’ communications and public relations manager Glenn Pillay. “You don’t realize the kinds of things in this world,” she said, describing her jet-setting life of her traveling around the world over the past year. “I spent most of my days traveling from one city to another; I have covered 80 percent of the world, doing fashion shows and appearances.” Hayden, who didn’t like the idea of handing over her crown in a week, said it would be difficult to get back to “normal life” after all the adulation and attention. “I can go on like this forever. It has been a lot of fun, there is no pressure to be Miss World if you enjoy traveling and meeting people.” She said that one of her greatest achievements was her contract with L’Oréal, the international cosmetics company, with which she said she would continue to work for a few more years. When asked if there was anything she would have wanted to do as queen but couldn’t do, she said: “Over the past year, there was no stone that I haven’t turned, except maybe (do) ‘bungee jumping.’ engaged and said, “I don’t have a boyfriend.” About what kind of man she was looking for, she said she didn’t care about looks or money, but generosity, good heart, sense of humor, and intelligence. Hayden said her immediate plan was to go to the United States to study acting.
Intendance Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Seychelles, was visited on the morning of Monday, November 23, by the Miss World 1998 contestants who participated in a tree-planting exercise to further highlight the country’s position on the environmental Protection. The Seychelles had adopted the country’s environmental and sustainable development strategy and wanted the Seychelles environment to remain intact for generations to come. To welcome the 86 contestants and inaugurate the ceremony was none other than Vice President James Michel in his capacity as Minister of the Environment. The ceremony took place in the presence of Eric Morley, and the Chief Secretary for the Environment, Maurice Lousteau-Lalanne. Vice President Michel told the contestants that with the tree planting ceremony the Seychelles government was once again sending a message to the rest of the world about its stance on the environment and allowing it to act as one of the world leaders in the field of tree planting conservation. He went on to say that last year the Miss World 1997 contestants had joined him and the children of Seychelles in planting an avenue of trees at Intendance as part of the country’s coastal rehabilitation program.
It was clear that the new Miss World would have more ambitions than to look pretty and travel the world. Saving the environment and tackling global poverty was high on her agenda. With this in mind, the 86 contestants in this year’s competition staggered off one of the Seychelles’ pristine beaches in platform shoes and stilettos to plant a tree each. To the delight of the photographers, they carried out their task with enthusiasm, shoveling sand in shorts that revealed buttocks and tight dresses. This was just one of many photo opportunities organized by the pageant promoters to show that the politically correct new Miss World was more than just a pretty face. But the heat soon took its toll on their heavily made-up faces and the girls pulled out their compact mirrors to make hasty repairs before turning to the cameras. They might look like beauty queens with long hair, big smiles, and as few clothes as possible, but the beachfront Miss World contestants said things had changed. “We have moved away from the stereotypical image of Miss World,” said Miss South Africa, Kerishnie Naiker, 25, a qualified pharmacist who hoped one day to be the country’s Minister of Health. “And what better way to show that Miss World cares by planting trees that one day we can see again,” the black-haired beauty added. The organizers of Miss World, Eric and Julia Morley, had tried to reinvent the 48-year-old competition that had flopped in the face of political correctness in the 1990s. Gone was the traditional parade of swimsuits and high heels in favor of attract many European television stations. The judges, however, would be shown a video of the girls frolicking on the beach and a parade in “street clothes,” a change that brought the event for the first time in a decade.
Swinging in heels on a beach in the Seychelles, Miss Croatia, Lejla Sehovic had come a long way since her harrowing battle against ethnic persecution in the Balkans. On Thursday night, in front of some 2.2 billion people, a panel of judges would decide whether Sehovic, a Muslim from Croatia, would return to her predominantly Catholic land with the Miss World crown. But after spending an all-expenses-paid week in Paris and three weeks on this island paradise, Sehovic was in no rush to get home. For her part, Miss Russia, Tatyana Mokrouchina, 17, was enjoying the weather. “I have a good tan, it’s not too hot,” she stated, but others said they had found the heat overwhelming, at least at first. The first tree to be planted by Seychelles Vice President James Michel was a Bonikarre, better known there as the “stun fish tree” because fishermen throw its huge fruit into the water to poison fish. “But they do it more in the Pacific than here,” added a conservative. Miss New Zealand Tanya Hayward, 19, from Whangaparoa, who seemed to know how to use a shovel, decorated her tree with a wild flower and shell, and surrounded it with a symbolic barrier of twigs. After planting the trees, the beauties danced with the children. The African and South American girls made the Northern European girls seem a bit stupid when it came to dancing, but the latter moved carefully and clapped at the end of each song with enthusiastic relief. They clung to the children, but couldn’t think of anything to say to them. “What a beautiful dress!” Was what most of them came up with in the end.
“This year you continue this avenue,” Michel told the girls and assured them that the developers of the tourist site had been told that this avenue was there to stay. “When they come home, the children will take care of their trees and make sure they grow well,” he told the participants. “With today’s action, they will have contributed to maintaining the Seychelles as the last sanctuary on Earth. We are sure that when they return to their respective countries they will carry the message that, while we are trying to protect our small part of the planet, there is the the need for all the countries of the world to preserve our planet for future generations”. Vice President Michel told the girls that they were all welcome back to Seychelles to see their trees grow. The Vice President then unveiled a plaque to commemorate the occasion with the following inscription: “Miss World for the Environment. This avenue of trees was planted by Vice President James Michel, Minister of the Environment, the Miss World 1997/1998 contestants and Seychelles children as part of the Coastal Management program”.
END POINT TO THE EXPLOITATION OF TURTLES.-
The Government of Seychelles closed the final curtain on the exploitation of the turtle shell on Monday, November 23, when it disposed, in front of the world press and the contestants of Miss World 1998, all the turtle shell that it had collected from the artisans after banning the farm four years ago. It was Vice President James Michel, in his capacity as Minister of the Environment, who set fire to 2.5 tons of turtle shell on the Intendance beach, in the south of Mahe, with the gaze of the 86 Miss World contestants. The contestants had just participated in a tree planting activity along the Intendance beach. Both activities were aimed at raising awareness of the importance that the country attached to the protection of its environment. Later that day, in another symbolic gesture, 16 Miss World contestants, including Miss Seychelles, Alvina Grand’Court, returned another load of turtle shell to the sea in special bags off Ste. Anne Island. The contestants sailed deep into the ocean behind Victoria Marine Park aboard La Creole, accompanied by some of the island’s environmental circle leaders, and threw the shells into the sea. To witness the symbolic ceremony, there were those chosen by the world’s journalists and photographers who had come to cover the Miss World show, which was getting a complete makeover this year to become a more contemporary celebration of women rather than just a beauty pageant. The ceremony was led by the Chief Secretary for the Environment, Mr. Maurice Lousteau-Lalanne. This had been a good environmental gesture, the only thing that was not taken into account were the possibilities of dizziness…
The contestants lined the stern feeling ill, but despite waves of nausea, they still took care to keep smiling for the cameras. Not for a second did the girls forget themselves; every tilt of the head, every touch of hair was an eagerly executed maneuver. It was exhausting to see something funny at first and then increasingly depressing. Typical of island nations, Seychellois used to exploit endangered hawksbill turtles for their shells and meat. The shell was prized for its use in making everything from collectible cigarette boxes to eyeglass frames. Since 1994, Seychelles had enforced its signature on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which prohibited all exploitation of sea turtles. Environmental clubs had sprung up in each of the island schools and 50% of the land area of the 115 islands in the archipelago had been under strict conservation. So much so that Seychelles, known as the most beautiful and unspoiled islands in the world, was launching a world first in environmental tourism this year. Known as the “Seychelles Goldcard,” the strategy asked each visitor to the islands to pay a one-time US $ 100 environmental visa to become a “Friend of Seychelles” for life and help support the country’s environmental efforts. Loustau-Lalanne told reporters that the turtle shell that the vice president had burned was worth about $ 115,000 on the illegal market and represented around 3,000 turtles, equivalent to 20 percent of the world’s estimated hawksbill population. Despite a ban on the international trade in turtle shells since 1975, Indian Ocean fishermen had hunted the hawksbill turtle to near extinction. Their activities had been banned locally in 1994. Now, officials hoped, the unusual combination of the bonfire and Miss World in one of the most spectacular tropical locations on the planet would draw attention to the plight of the turtles. Seychelles realized that live sea turtles were a better source of income for the country than dead ones, said Jeanne Mortimer, an American biologist who had studied hawksbill turtles for 25 years and advised the Seychelles government. “The burning of shells has great symbolic value.” On her part, Loustau-Lalanne said: “The artisans have been compensated with funds from the Government of Seychelles, as well as funds provided by the Global Environment Facility, administered by the World Bank.” “Our actions today ended an aspect of our people’s cultural past and set Seychelles on a firm course to be the leader in environmental conservation. We wish through today’s event to send this important message to the world.”
THE LAST FEW DAYS OF THE COMPETITION.-
On the night of Monday, November 23, the customary “Miss World Christmas and Family Party” was held in the Val Mer Room of the Plantation Club Hotel where some contestants demonstrated their talents. On Tuesday 24, in the morning hours, the Girls’ Press Presentation was held in the gardens of the Mahe Beach hotel and at night the Dress Rehearsal was held where the first three winners of Miss World ’98 were awarded: Miss PERSONALITY, chosen by the participants themselves and which went to Miss SEYCHELLES (Alvina Antoinette Lucia Grand’Court); Miss PHOTOGENIC, selected by the photojournalists who covered the contest and won by Miss BRAZIL (Adriana Luci de Souza Reis) and the BEST DAY WEAR, which corresponded to Miss AUSTRALIA (Sarah-Jane Camille St. Clair). Miss Venezuela was admonished in the rehearsal because it took her a long time to change from day clothes to evening dress. The contestants only had 3 minutes to change! On Wednesday 25, it was set aside for the evaluation of the 86 Misses by the qualifying judges at the Gran Kazz Restaurant of the Mahe Beach hotel, who interviewed each participant individually for 3 minutes, some with the help of interpreters, and where they arrived wearing elegant evening dresses. For the first time in history, the judges did not evaluate the participants in swimsuits and gave a single list of their ten preferred candidates after meeting them during the interview. Each of those selected would obtain 4 points and those that did not, 2 points. The ten with the highest scores would be the semi-finalists. One of the judges, Jacques Villeneuve, said before the evaluation: “My friends did not believe me when I told them that I would really talk to the girls to check what was up there. It is also important what you have in your mind because they are going to go around the world talking for a year, so it would be nice if they had something important to say.”
DETAILS ON THE PRESS PRESENTATION.-
The 86 Miss World ’98 contestants left their rooms on Tuesday, November 24 to meet an equally large number of local and foreign journalists and reporters who interviewed and photographed them. During the interaction, which took place in the gardens of the Berjaya Mahe Beach where the contestants were staying, the girls freely expressed their opinions on a number of topics in response to questions from journalists. They also brought out the best in their smiles as they posed for television and photo cameras. Some, like Annie Thomas from India, called certain journalists by name and took the opportunity to thank them for the mention of their humility in the media, while almost all the candidates spontaneously mentioned the welcome they received at the airport and expressed deep appreciation for it. Regarding her favorites, she told the Pacific Standard newspaper that “my option is Miss Venezuela, who is really a ‘knockout’” and she said she was not nervous for the final. Many praised the beauty of the Seychelles, although some said getting used to the high humidity level was necessary. Miss Venezuela, Verónica Schneider, said that she would like to make her marriage and enjoy her honeymoon there when the time comes, while Miss Gibraltar, Melanie Soiza, said that she would endeavor to return to the country for a vacation without pressure. Miss Trinidad and Tobago, Jeanette Marie La Caille, said that although she came from a country that was also made up of islands, the preservation of beaches and architecture was done much better in Seychelles, saying that the reference to this archipelago as “paradise” it was justified. If she won the contest, she said, she would certainly try to put environmental conservation high on her agenda so that “over there” could be like the Seychelles. Miss Trinidad said about the competition that “everyone has a chance and I’m just going to put my best foot forward and hope to win because it will be a wonderful opportunity if I do.”
The beauty prototypes had definitely changed by the parameters of what was to come in the new millennium. According to reporters, Miss Japan was reeling like a sumo wrestler and Miss Israel was a gawky, half-tomboyish young woman swinging her arms like a monkey. Hurrah! Welcome to the pageant of real women. Miss Croatia, Lejla Sehovic, had received messages of support from all over the world, mainly from Croatia, where she had a large number of followers. Although the Miss World organizers were reluctant to allow her to speak to journalists and demanded faxed questions in advance, Sehovic had shown before that she was not too concerned about the promoters of the pageant and spoke freely about her experiences at home. “It was a very difficult time and I will never forget it,” she said. “I am not nervous about this contest. I am excited, but I was more nervous before the contest in Croatia. Now I feel very calm.” At least Thursday night she wouldn’t have to wear a bathing suit on stage. However, she had a complaint. “It’s too hot,” she said as she frantically prepared to rush off to one more rehearsal with her roommate, Miss Italy.
Miss UK felt like she had known Miss Australia her whole life. This was great, because they had actually only been sharing a hotel room for three weeks. Miss UK was 18 and worried that the other contestants might be more mature than her; “They seemed so old when I used to watch Miss World on TV. I’m not saying I’m immature,” she added quickly, “because I’m a mature person. I just didn’t realize that they would all be like me.” Another good thing was that the girls weren’t competitive at all. “I know you’ll think I’m just saying it, but you see we’re all winners when we get here. But there can only be one winner out of 86.” “However, it’s not like we chat about who we think will win every day. I just think: let’s put on a good show for the people!” Normally, when she was away from her mother, she felt homesick. But, she hadn’t felt homesick at all in Seychelles. In fact, she was very sad that soon it will all end. And she hadn’t once wished she could relax and curse or go without makeup or something. “People might think that because I’m Miss UK you idolize yourself. But I’m just an ordinary girl. Nothing goes to my head.” Miss UK was Emmalene McLoughlin, a florist from Liverpool who enjoyed playing basketball. “I really didn’t have any expectations before I came,” stated Miss Australia, Sarah-Jane St. Clair. “Everything has been a wonderful surprise. Every day I wake up and new and exciting things happen.” She says she was having a great time and she thought that people who said Miss World was old-fashioned ‘were old-fashioned’. “It is no longer a beauty pageant. It is beauty with a purpose,” she said.
Miss USA, Shauna Gambill, has been having nightmares. One night she dreamed that she was in the top 10 but then she had passed out. “It was terrible. But I didn’t care that I didn’t win! I just hated not being able to remember what had happened. Did I do my best? The Miss World USA team just wants me to be happy, you understand? The pressure I have is the pressure I put on myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself. That doesn’t necessarily mean winning, though. That should be the furthest thing from my mind. Nothing is more important than being nice to others”. “I want to go to law school and focus all my energy on the victims. I think that’s really important. You know, women who have had violent boyfriends and all that.” Miss USA said that Miss World was not like a typical beauty pageant. “A girl really has a chance to be herself here.” And she added: “I hope that what they have told me is true and that they choose a Miss World who is intelligent, humble, sophisticated and who knows how to say what she thinks and is also aware of the world around her.” On the other hand, Miss Jamaica, Christine Straw dedicated herself to talking about the drug problem among the young people of her generation. Miss Liberia, Olivia Cooper said “I am here to show the world that there is more to Liberia than just war, and of course to win Miss World”. Miss Spain, Rocío Jiménez Fernández speaking about the charity dinner, said: “I think it is for a good cause, for the children in need. I hope it will be useful for them”. Miss India Annie Thomas said: “It is not just about looking good, it is about the person you are, you are showing the whole world what country you have come from, you are teaching them a little about your own country and learning a lot about the rest of the world”. For her part, Miss Malaysia, Lina Teoh, said: “I think it is time for us to move on and I believe that in previous years many of the contests, including Miss World, have been retroactive and I feel very happy and privileged to be part of it the year everything is going to change. I think everyone is going to be amazed at how spectacular the event will be and how realistic it will be, and they are really making an effort to enter the 21st century”. Miss Panama, Lorena Zagía, praised the global approach of the Seychelles conservation efforts, noting that the attitude of protecting the environment of each country for the good of the Earth as a whole was highly commendable.
On the other hand, the television crew was reprimanded for making loud and unkind comments. Miss Guatemala reportedly cried for 12 hours after hearing a comment that the stage would collapse if she stood on it. Miss South Africa was said to be “quite cocky”. It was widely assumed that Miss Canada was “related to someone important”, as no one believed that she could have won a national pageant. It was said that Miss Venezuela made up “like an inflatable doll”, and perhaps she also had an “inflatable breast”. Apparently her chest had puffed up; her implants were new, rumor has it, and they hadn’t adjusted well for travel. Soon, they were all guilty, look at her skin! Is that cellulite? And so they went on, day after day, and the girls kept smiling. A cruel rumor had spread that undercover judges were circulating, verifying the authenticity of their sunny dispositions. Having come this far, the girls did not want to take chances and were smiling at all times. “The girls,” as they were universally known, had led a curious existence since their arrival. Each one was accompanied by a woman who works as a guarantor of her life, well-being and chastity. The chaperones accompanied them at all times. “It’s like having a second mom,” smiled Miss Philippines, Rachel Soriano, but since the chaperone was always sitting next to her, she was unlikely to say otherwise…
FAVORITES AND ROOMMATES.-
The favorites of this edition, according to the press and experts in the field who were in the Seychelles, were Miss India, Miss South Africa, Miss Venezuela, Miss Trinidad-Tobago and Miss Brazil. Meanwhile, in the British bookmakers, the favored ones were Miss United Kingdom with 8-1 followed by Miss Chile and Miss Finland with 10-1. Others mentioned as favorites were the representatives of Malaysia, Jamaica, Ukraine, France, Czech Republic, Holland and USA. Here is the list of participants with their respective roommates:
|Croatia – Italy||Saint Maarten – Aruba||Malta -Turkey|
|Seychelles – Cayman Islands||Bolivia – Ecuador||Jamaica – South Africa|
|Australia – United Kingdom||Japan – Korea||France – Mauritius|
|Malaysia – U.S.A.||Germany – Switzerland||American Virgin Islands – Gibraltar|
|Chile -Nicaragua||Sweden – Finland||Slovakia – Hungary|
|Zimbabwe – Liberia||Colombia – Dominican Rep.||Guatemala – Curacao|
|Belgium – Holland||Botswana – Nigeria||Tanzania – Zambia|
|Canada – Israel||Argentina – Spain||Yugoslavia – Bosnia & Herzegovina|
|Brazil – Trinidad & Tobago||Ghana – Swaziland||Chinese Taipei – Singapore|
|Venezuela – Uruguay||Bahamas – British Virgin Islands||Kazakhstan – Bulgaria|
|Ukraine – Russia||Portugal – Angola||Peru – Paraguay|
|Costa Rica – Puerto Rico||Panama – Mexico||Philippines – India|
|Nepal – Hong Kong||Poland – New Zealand *||Ireland- Greece *|
|Austria – Czech Rep. *||Estonia – Norway *||Lithuania – Cyprus *|
|Slovenia – Lebanon *||* Not confirmed|
REJECTING MISS VENEZUELA.-
Miss Venezuela, Verónica Schneider, on the eve of the finals, was contacted in the room of other candidates since an electrical fault in the bathroom of room 614 in which she was with Miss Uruguay forced her to use her hair dryer in that of her companions from Bolivia and Ecuador. She told the Venezuelan press that since she arrived at the contest she felt the rejection of several of her companions. “There are some girls who have made it difficult for me. Since I arrived I have not been able to speak with Miss Colombia or Miss Dominican Republic. I have tried to get closer but they do not give me any chance”, Veronica confessed resignedly. For her, the Top 5 should be made up of Miss India, Miss South Africa, Miss Czech Republic, Miss Brazil, Miss France “and, of course, Miss Venezuela,” she said with a laugh. Regarding the organization of Miss World, she said that she had no comparison with that of Miss Venezuela. “Of the three weeks we have here, Tuesday was the strongest rehearsal day. For the rest, from time to time, we have filming for television, photography sessions, private interviews for the press and television. Then, all we do is to rest and walks. But nothing to do with the stress of Miss Venezuela. When you go out to compete abroad, you realize how valuable the training and preparation that the contest gives to Venezuelan women”.
Osmel Sousa, the organizer and coach of Miss Venezuela, could not accompany her on this occasion because he had suffered a heart attack a few months before and was not in a position to travel. However, by phone, he had been very aware of her. She said that Sousa had advised her to come out with her hair tied back. “They only give me four minutes, that’s why I’m going to go out, from the first time, with my hair up. We have decided that way.” For the opening of the contest she said that she was going to wear a Luis Uzcátegui gown (which in the end she could not wear because it was very pompous and for the opening the contestants were asked a simple casual dress with sandals or sports shoes).
ALL READY FOR THE FINALS.-
In its second year in the Seychelles, the competition had been renewed. Gone was the parade of swimsuits and high heels, in its place were now modern sets, trendy music, and an emphasis on the brain. It was a decision that some of the contestants were very happy with. Since they arrived in the Seychelles, the beauties had not had time to rest. Aside from promoting the competition, each participant had been interviewed individually and on camera for the competition judges to assess their personalities. They were involved in local projects, including helping the islands vice president, James Michel, with an environmental project, planting trees. The Seychelles government viewed the contest as an ideal opportunity to gain publicity for the country. By hosting the event for the second year in a row, the islands had invested some $ 5 million in the show. Miss World would be broadcast to 25 countries in Latin America, where beauty pageants were avidly followed, and throughout Eastern Europe, which the Seychelles had singled out as a key new tourism market.
But the biggest blow to the organizers was courting the entertainment channel “E!” from the United States, which was now planning to air a special of the contest. It was said that the combination of Boyzone heartthrob Ronan Keating hosting the show and a performance by his band with their new single “I love the way you love me” was enough to get British terrestrial television (Channel 5) interested for broadcasting it for the first time in a decade. The contest would have 90 minutes in which the 86 contestants, dressed in denim street clothes, would dance to disco music on a beachfront. All of this was more than enough to attract Formula One racing driver Jacques Villeneuve to the judging panel. Whatever the outcome, there were some strong contenders like Miss South Africa, Miss Malaysia and Miss India. Eric Morley, the aging founder of Miss World, said that “people love a competition and when it comes to beauty, everyone is an expert.” The producers were firmly committed to the following views: Miss World used to be old-fashioned, embarrassing, and sexist. This year would be modern, cool, and therefore the complete opposite of sexist. It would be “empowering”. Everyone involved agreed that this presented a great challenge, but the challenge was made even more complicated by the fact that there were so many people involved. There was Eric Morley, a watery-eyed gentleman of advanced years who founded Miss World in 1951 and who retained ownership of the rights. He could be seen watching the girls from a distance, and he looked like a sentimental old man who admired his pretty granddaughters, or a cool businessman who admired the way he made money from them. He and his wife, Julia, a formidable woman, a few decades younger, may have ceded full control to the Initial production company, but they were there to safeguard the “family style spirit” of their beloved contest against the spiciest desires from “some flourishing TV shows”.
Then there was Malcom Gerrie, director of Initial, the man who wanted Keith from Prodigy to be a judge, and for Run DMC to play live. None of his wishes had been fulfilled, but he was infinitely happy despite everything. The Seychelles government had also settled in the hotel, in the form of the charming adviser to the President, Gilbert Pool. Pool had laughed a bit that week at a British magazine report that at the Miss World party last year he had gotten wildly drunk and yelled “fuck” at the “fucking chaperones.” Pool’s main task was to promote the Seychelles to the world. Gilbert Pool was kindly available to explain what the purpose of the contest in Seychelles could be. “Miss World should be someone who turns everyone around when she walks into a room.” According to Julie Clive, the show’s first female producer, Britain was ready for the contest again thanks to Girl Power and Baywatch. Miss World did not need feminism in the nineties, but simply a facelift. “There is nothing offensive in what we are doing,” he said. “Swimsuits on stage? That was always really offensive. That smelled of a la carte market or, worse, a horrible 1950s seaside beauty pageant.” “This year there will be no singing or dancing. That makes the candidates look silly,” Clive said. In the daring world of Miss World, nothing was more offensive than a fashion misstep, not even a cattle market. In these terms, the producers had undoubtedly managed to save the Miss World pageant from itself, as compared to previous shows, this year would be sleek and edgy, a conscious nod to “cool” and “kitsch.” Seychelles vibrated with the tense expectation of victory. Everyone was satisfied that there was nothing problematic about a beauty pageant, as long as it looked like MTV. It was strange that no one seemed to understand why people were opposed to Miss World in the first place. If the notion of young women lining up to be judged on their physiques as if they were cattle was offensive, then no amount of modern camera work could alter the unpleasant essentials of the matter. Nor did the endless guarantees that the girls were “very sweet and shy” put the mind at ease; If the event was so “empowering”, it was strange that the contestants censored their every word and moved stiffly for fear of appearing aggressive. The girls had been told that intelligence and independence of mind were the qualities judges were looking for, but they too were smart enough to know that they should have an attractive air, so the tension was beginning to manifest.
JEWELERS PRESENT CRAFTS THROUGH MISS WORLD.-
Victoria-based gold jewelers Kreol’Or launched the Seychelles-made handicraft sale to coincide with the Miss World pageant, for which the company was sponsoring a series of prizes and souvenir gifts. All Miss World ’98 participants would each receive a gift package containing a local wooden comb and a brochure illustrating the various jewels available from Kreol’Or, which operated in association with the Seychelles Marketing Board. A company press release said the efforts were in solidarity with those of the government aimed at promoting Seychelles as an environmentally conscious destination. Kreol’Or Managing Director Claudio Izzi said that all workers who participated in organizing the contest would receive pins or brooches carved from coconut shells in the shape of coco de mer nuts. Contest participants would also receive shells in the shape of palm trees, fish or turtles, to ensure that the girls took home a piece of nature, according to Mr. Izzi. The director said the artisan items would be available for sale at the company’s stores in the duty-free section of the international airport and at its main boutique in Victoria.
MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE SEYCHELLES.-
President France Albert Rene asked all Seychellois to work hard and make many sacrifices to be worthy custodians of the most beautiful and unspoiled islands on Earth, in his message on the occasion of the Miss World ’98 contest whose final was being held on the night of Thursday, November 26. In the message, the President said that as the new Millennium approached, Seychelles was honored to be recognized as one of the icons of beauty. But this, he said, “carries a great responsibility for the people of Seychelles, one of the smallest and most dynamic nations in the world. By virtue of this mission we have an important role to play on the world stage and it is no wonder that our little girl nation has taken the lead and has become an example in the management and preservation of our environment, thus preserving a small corner of the planet for the rest of humanity and our children”, he added. The rest of the message read: “The Miss World 1998 event in Seychelles, of which we are not only the hosts but also the organizers and the main catalysts, would be a contemporary and dynamic celebration of the most beautiful women on the most beautiful islands in the world. It will carry multiple images and messages from our islands, but most important of all, it will highlight the introduction of the world’s first environmental tourism visa concept, which seeks to promote Seychelles as a place of environmental preservation”. “I wish to congratulate the international team led by Seychelles who are organizing the biggest entertainment show of this year, and I wish all the participants a happy event. You are all part of the Seychelles celebration”.
Miss Nicaragua and Miss South Africa participated in Miss Universe ’98 in Hawaii, where the South African was a semifinalist. Miss Ukraine was in Miss Universe ’97, Miss Globe ’96, Miss Model of the World ’96 and was a semifinalist of Miss Europe ’97. Miss Guatemala competed in Miss International ’97 while the Costa Rican was in Miss Hawaiian Tropic Intl. ’95 and was the first princess in the International Coffee Queen ’98. As mentioned above, Miss USA was Miss Teen USA ’94 and first runner-up for Miss USA ’98 representing California. For her part, the Dominican was a veteran in pageants. She had participated in Miss Ambar Mundial ’95 where she was a semifinalist, won the Miss Teen Panamericana ’96, also competed in Miss Teen International, Miss World of the Americas and the Caribbean, Miss Modelo Internacional and Miss Expo International, all of these in 1997. In this last contest she was 1st. runner-up. Miss Chile was the girlfriend of Chilean soccer captain Iván Zamorano. It was rumored that Miss Peru’s mother, who accompanied her to the Seychelles, was talking about her donating a certain amount of money to Miss World charities, perhaps seeking the classification of her daughter. Miss Peru told her companions that she felt that she was already in the final frame !! On the other hand, due to complaints from the Chinese government, Miss Taiwan was presented as Miss Chinese Taipei. This year’s tallest candidate was Miss France at 6 feet one and the shortest, Miss Gibraltar, at 5 feet 2 inches. Here is a table with the most important data of each of the 86 candidates for Miss World ’98:
|AMERICAN VIRGIN ISLANDS||Wendy Sanchez||21||1,64 m||Brown||Green||Wendy is currently working for an oil refinery but her future ambition is to complete her studies in Business Administration. Her hobbies include watching television, reading and travelling.|
|ANGOLA||Maria Manuela Cortes De Lemos Joao||22||5ft6||Black||Black||Maria is in the first year of her University course, studying Social Sciences. Her ambition is to be a diplomat. Hobbies include fashion and literature. She speaks Portuguese.|
|ARGENTINA||Natalia Elisa Gonzalez||19||1,75m||Brown red||Green||Natalia is a model and actress. Her hobbies are singing and dancing and she is also a gymnast. She speaks a little English.|
|ARUBA||Judelca Shahira Briceño||18||1,78m||Dark Brown||Dark|
|Judelca has just graduated from the Advanced Scientific College and her ambition is to become an infant Psychologist. She models in her spare time. Judelca speaks Spanish, Papiamento, Dutch, English and French.|
|AUSTRALIA||Sarah-Jane Camille St Clair||20||1,80m||Brown||Hazel||Sarah is studying journalism and Arts and hopes to pursue a career in the film or television industry. She enjoys the performing arts, particularly ballet, public speaking and painting. She speaks English, German and a little Japanese.|
|AUSTRIA||Sabine Lindorfer||22||1,75m||Blonde||Blue||Sabine is a bank clerk, but in her spare time she teaches a special kind of gymnastics for the back. She enjoys many sports, and also plays the piano, guitar and clarinet. Sabine speaks English and French.|
|BAHAMAS||LeTeasha Henrietta Ingraham||17||1,80m||Dark brown||Dark|
|LeTeasha commences her studies as a lawyer in 1999 and her ambition is to serve as Magistrate. Her hobbies include public speaking and softball.|
|BELGIUM||Tanja Dexters||21||1,70m||Blonde||Blue||Tanja is an infant school teacher. Her hobbies include skiing and travelling. She has visited many countries worldwide. Tanja speaks English, Dutch and French.|
|BOLIVIA||Bianca Bauer Añez||20||1,74||Light Brown||Dark|
|Bianca is a student of International Relations. She enjoys cooking and aerobics, and hopes to become an aerobics instructor by the end of this year. Bianca speaks Spanish and English.|
|BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA||Samra Tojaga||17||1,80m||Brown||Brown||Samra is a secondary school student whose ambition is to be a famous fashion designer. Her hobbies include ballet, handball and computers.|
|BOTSWANA||Earthern Pinkinyana Mbulawa||19||1,79m||Black||Dark Brown||Earthern is an Administrative Officer whose ambition is to be a lecturer in Psychology. Her hobbies include modelling, singing and dancing. Earthern speaks Setswana, English and Kalanga.|
|BRAZIL||Adriana Luci De Souza Reis||19||Dark brown||Dark|
|Adriana is a Media student and her ambition is to be a TV presenter. Her hobbies include dancing ballet, flamenco and samba, and she is also a green belt in Karate. Adriana speaks Portuguese, English and some Spanish.|
|BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS||Virginia Olen Rubaine||21||1,68m||Auburn||Brown||Virginia is a student whose aim is to become a Clinical Psychologist. She likes to read in her spare time.|
|BULGARIA||Polina Petkova||18||1,72m||Auburn||Brown||Polina is a high school economics student, but models in her spare time. Her ambition is to go to University and to become a top model. In her spare time she enjoys gymnastics and Modern ballet. Polina speaks German and English.|
|CANADA||Leanne Baird||21||1,71m||Brown||Blue||Leanne is a student and a special needs worker. Her ambition is to be a lawyer. Her hobbies include jogging, reading and dramatic arts.|
|CAYMAN ISLANDS||Gemma Marie McLaughlin||19||5ft9||Green||Gemma is an Airport Customer Services Agent whose ambition is to obtain a university degree in Marketing. Her hobbies include swimming and keeping fit, she also enjoys acting.|
|CHILE||Daniella Andrea Campos Lathrop||21||1,72m||Brown||Grey||Daniella has completed her studies in Tourism and is now a Professional Model. She loves gymnastics and dancing. Daniella speaks Spanish and basic Italian.|
|CHINESE TAIPEI||Yi-Ju Chen||19||1,69m||Black||Black||Yi-Ju is a student and her ambitions are to be a good cook and a fashion designer. In her spare time she likes swimming, playing the piano and cooking. She speaks Chinese.|
|COLOMBIA||Monica Marcela Cuartas Jiménez||19||1,72m||Black||Dark|
|Monica studied Social and Community Relations at University and is now studying English. She is also a Professional Model and enjoys reading and swimming in her spare time.|
|COSTA RICA||Maria Luisa Ureña Salazar||22||1,70m||Brown||Brown||Maria works in the Media field. She enjoys all aspects of the arts, literature and music. Her hobbies include sculpture and dance, and she speaks Spanish and basic English.|
|CROATIA||Lejla Sehovic||22||1,78m||Brown||Brown||Lejla is a student whose ambition is to complete her management studies. She enjoys swimming and keeping fit.|
|CURACAO||Jeamene Veronica Colastica||25||1,71m||Black||Dark|
|Jeamene is the manager and teacher at a pre-school. She is also a professional dancer and enjoys ballet and jazz. Other hobbies include swimming and going to the cinema. Her ambition is to be a showbusiness manager.|
|CYPRUS||Chrysanthi Michael||19||1,68m||Chestnut||Black||Chrysanthi is studying to be a beautician. Her hobbies include gymnastics, watersports and she loves dancing.|
|CZECH REPUBLIC||Alena Seredova||20||1,81m||Brown||Brown||Alena is a professional model but her ambition is to become a lawyer. Her hobbies include tennis, aerobics and basketball. Alena speaks English, German and a little Spanish.|
|DOMINICAN REPUBLIC||Sharmin Arelis Diaz Escoto||18||5ft8||Brown||Brown||Sharmin is a law student and a professional model. Her hobbies include swimming, dancing and listening to music.|
|ECUADOR||Vanessa Natania Graf Alvear||19||1,72m||Blonde||Dark|
|Vanessa is a student who hopes to become a famous fashion designer. She loves art in all forms, particularly painting and has exhibited some of her work in the USA, where she attended high school. Vanessa has travelled extensively and speaks Spanish and English.|
|ESTONIA||Ly Jürgenson||21||1,73m||Brown||Brown||Ly is a model and a professional confectioner. Her ambition is to go to University to study Social Sciences. Ly speaks Estonian, Russian, English and German.|
|FINLAND||Maaret Saija Nousiainen||22||1,72m||Brown||Blue||Maaret is a model and a student of business and economics. She loves sport and has travelled throughout Europe. Maaret speaks Finnish, Swedish and English.|
|FRANCE||Veronique Caloc||23||1,85m||Black||Brown||Veronique is a language student with ambitions to become an interpreter and professional model. Her hobbies include listening to music and reading. Veronique speaks French and Spanish.|
|GERMANY||Sandra Soheyla Ahrabian||19||1,70m||Brown||Brown||Sandra is completing her studies as a salesperson but would really like to be a flight attendant. Her hobbies include rollerblading, skiing, hiking and painting. Sandra speaks German and a little English.|
|GHANA||Efia Owusuaa Marfo||21||1,75m||Black||Brown||Efia is a businesswoman who aspires to be a corporate secretary. She loves reading, listening to music and playing basketball and is also a good dancer. Efia speaks English.|
|GIBRALTAR||Melanie Soiza||22||1,58m||Blonde||Green||Melanie is a dental nurse but her ambition is to be a professional Photographic Model. She enjoys cycling, aerobics and volleyball. Melanie speaks English, Spanish and French.|
|GREECE||Katja Marie Margaritoglou||22||1,77m||Blonde||Green||Katja is a model and a student of interior design but her ambition is open her own restaurant. She has travelled extensively and lived in Sweden for a number of years. Katja speaks Greek, Swedish, English, German and French.|
|GUATEMALA||Glenda Iracema Cifuentes Ruíz||Brown||Green|
|HOLLAND||Nerena Ruinemans||18||1,74m||Blonde||Blue –|
|Nerena is an economics student and her ambition is to be a businesswoman, preferably in the fashion industry. Her hobbies are playing football and aerobics.|
|HONG KONG CHINA||Jessie Chiu Yi-Chui||24||1,70m||Black||Black||Jessie is a personal financial consultant whose ambition is to be an international Ambassador. She studied in New Zealand for four years. Chui Yi speaks English, Mandarin and Cantonese.|
|HUNGARY||Eva Horvath||19||1,72m||Brown||Blue||Eva is studying business studies but would like to be a lawyer. She loves animals and has 2 chameleons, 2 turtles and a dog at home. Eva speaks English.|
|INDIA||Annie Thomas||23||5Ft8||Black||Black||Annie studied biology and is now a model and actress. Her ambition is to be an actress with a cause and she is inspired by Richard Gere and Audrey Hepburn. She has travelled worldwide and speaks English, Hindi and Malayalam.|
|Vivienne is a flight attendant and model. Her ambition is to finish her law studies and to own her own practice. Her hobbies include reading, singing and dancing.|
|ISRAEL||Linor Abargil||19||1,76m||Brown||Brown||Linor is a model who would like to have a career in Media Communications. She has been dancing jazz and classical and modern ballet for 10 years. Linor speaks Hebrew and English.|
|ITALY||Maria Concetta Travaglini||18||1,76m||Brown||Brown||Maria is a student and her ambition is to work in the Fashion industry. She enjoys all sports, particularly Volleyball. Maria speaks English.|
|JAMAICA||Christine Renée Straw||18||5ft9||Brown||Brown||Christine is a student who wishes to pursue a career in the fashion and hospitality industry. Her hobbies include hiking, scuba diving, photography and travelling.|
|JAPAN||Rie Mochizuki||22||1,71m||Black||Black||Rue is a University student whose ambition is to travel as much as possible. She loves cooking, sports and calligraphy. Rie speaks Japanese.|
|KAZAKHSTAN||Anna Kirpota||21||1,83m||Brown||Hazel||Anna is a model and a law student. Her hobbies are painting and acting. Ann speaks Russian, English and Kazak.|
|KOREA||Kun-Woo Kim||20||1,76m||Black||Black||Gun-Woo is a student of fashion design who wants to become a model. Her hobbies include basketball, volleyball and bowling. Gun-Woo speaks Korean and a little English.|
|LEBANON||Clemence Achkar||18||1,73m||Brown||Blue||Clemente is a university student studying sociology and public relations. Her hobbies are swimming and dancing.|
|LIBERIA||Olivia Precious Cooper||23||5ft9||Dark brown||Dark|
|Olivia is an administrator for an aviation company and her ambition is to be an entrepreneur. Her hobbies include reading, cooking and listening to music. She has travelled worldwide, having previously worked as a flight attendant, and has also studied in the USA.|
|LITHUANIA||Kristina Pakarnaite||19||1,73m||Brown||Brown||Kristina is studying to become an Air Traffic Controller. In her spare time she enjoys all sports, playing the piano and meeting friends. She has travelled throughout Europe and speaks Russian and English.|
|MALAYSIA||Lina Teoh Pick Lim||22||1,70||Brown Black||Brown||Lina is an actress and model and her ambition is to be a film director. Her hobbies include rollerblading, scuba diving, skiing and swimming.|
|MALTA||Rebecca Camilleri||20||1,70m||Blonde||Blue||Rebecca is a bank clerk and currently studying for a diploma in marketing. Her hobbies include badminton, horseriding and backpacking. Rebecca speaks English and Maltese.|
|MAURITIUS||Oona Sujaya Fulena||20||1,79m||Dark brown||Green||Oona is a student and part-time model. Her ambition is to be a teacher for the deaf and mute. She has played volleyball for Mauritius. She has travelled extensively and speaks English, French and Creole.|
|MEXICO||Vilma Veronica Zamora Suñol||19||Brown||Brown||Vilma has just finished high school and will now go on to study Industrial Relations. She models in her spare time and hopes to own her own Model Agency one day. She loves to play basketball and speaks Spanish and English.|
|NEPAL||Jyoti Pradhan||19||1,725m||Black||Black||Jyoti is a Science teacher who hopes to be a computer engineer. Her hobbies include photography, basketball and flower arranging. Jydti speaks English, Nepali and Hindi.|
|NEW ZEALAND||Tanya Hayward||19||1,79m||Blonde||Green||Tanya is a Trainee Manager who hopes to be successful in the Fashion Industry. She enjoys all watersports.|
|NICARAGUA||Claudia Patricia Alaniz Hernandez||21||5ft9||Light brown||Green||Claudia is studying Computer Science and French and hopes to use her skills in the Tourism Industry. She loves to keep fit and says she “swims like a fish”!|
|Henriette is a law student and works part-time as a receptionist at a Fitness Centre. She loves to cook for her friends and is famous for her pasta! Other hobbies include skiing and beach volleyball. Henriette speaks Norwegian, English and some French.|
|PANAMA||Lorena del Carmen Zagia Miro||22||1,67m||Brown||Brown||Lorena is a student of marketing and advertising and she also works as an aerobics instructor and choreographer for dancing events. Her hobbies include surfing the Internet and kneeboarding.|
|PARAGUAY||Perla Carolina Benitez Gonzales||17||1,74m||Light brown||Brown||Perla is a high school student. She speaks Spanish and Guarani.|
|PERU||Mariana Monica Maria Luisa Larrabure de Orbegoso||22||1,72m||Light brown||Green||Mariana is a student and her hobbies include horseriding, dancing and painting. She speaks Spanish.|
|PHILIPPINES||Rachel Muyot Soriano||23||1,78m||Dark brown||Dark|
|Having completed her degree course in International Studies, Rachel is now modelling full-time. Her hobbies include rock climbing, dragon boat rowing and reading. Her ambition is to be a diplomat.|
|POLAND||Izabela Opechowska||18||Blonde||Green||Izabela is a high school student whose ambition is to become a doctor. She enjoys reading, cycling and listening to rock music. Izabela speaks Russian and basic English.|
|PORTUGAL||Marcia Vasconcelos||17||1,75m||Brown||Brown||Marcia is a high school student who intends to go to University next year to study Economics. She likes keeping fit, volleyball and jet skiing.|
|PUERTO RICO||Antonia Alfonso Pagan||21||5ft9||Brown||Brown||Antonia is a full time student of General Science. She loves drawing, watching movies and is in the process of writing a novel. Antonia speaks Spanish, English and a little French.|
|RUSSIA||Tatyana Mokrouchina||17||Dark blonde||Blue||Tatiana is a student at Moscow Bank School. Her ambition is to be an economist. Her hobbies are dancing, swimming and designing clothes.|
|ST. MAARTEN||Myrtille Charlotte Brookson||20||1,74m||Brown||Brown||Myrtille is studying Fiscal Law and Economics at Amsterdam University. In her spare time she plays tennis, models and dives. Myrtille speaks English, Dutch and French.|
|SEYCHELLES||Alvina Antoinette Lucia Grand’Court||20||1,75m||Black||Black||Alvina is a Marketing Assistant and in her spare time she enjoys swimming, cycling and playing with her dog Boris. Alvina speaks English, French and Creole.|
|SINGAPORE||Grace Chay||21||1,69m||Black brown||Dark|
|Grace has a diploma in Fashion Merchandising but is currently working as a childcare teacher. Her ambition is to own a bridal shop and to be a wedding co-ordinator. Her interests include arts and crafts, sewing, baking and netball.|
|Karolina is an economic student and part-time model. Her hobbies include playing the piano, dancing and learning languages. She speaks Slovak, Czech, Hungarian and English.|
|SLOVENIA||Mihaela “Misa” Novak||23||1,76m||Blonde||Brown||Mihaela is a foreign language student and her ambition is to receive a scholarship for postgraduate studies of simultaneous translating. She has represented Slovenia as a ballet and Latin-American dancer, and also enjoys theatre, cycling and swimming.|
|SOUTH AFRICA||Kerishnie Naicker||25||1,68m||Dark Brown||Dark|
|Kerishnie is a qualified pharmacist, but currently works as a television presenter and part-time model. Her ambition is to be South Africa’s Minister of Health. Her hobbies include sport and playing and listening to music. She speaks English, Afrikaans and Zulu.|
|SPAIN||Rocio Jimenez Fernandez||18||1,77m||Brown||Brown||Rocio is a model and student of Environmental Science. Her hobbies are athletics and theatre. Rocio speaks a little English.|
|SWAZILAND||Cindy Stankoczi||19||1,70m||Brown||Brown||Cindy is a Sales consultant for a beauty firm. Her ambition is to be a successful businesswoman in the beauty industry. In her spare time she enjoys playing volleyball, socialising and listening to music.|
|SWEDEN||Jessica Magdalena Therese Almenas||22||1,75m||Blonde||Green||Jessica is a full time model but her ambition is to be a diplomat for her country. She is very sporty and used to play basketball for Sweden. Jessica speaks Swedish, English, German and French.|
|SWITZERLAND||Sonja Grandjean||19||1,75m||Dark brown||Brown /|
|Sonja currently works in an insurance company but her ambition is to become a graphic designer. Her hobbies include dancing, drawing and inline skating. She speaks German, Italian and Spanish.|
|TANZANIA||Basilla Kalubha Mwanukuzi||20||1,77m||Black||Black||Basilla has just left high school and now hopes to study Fashion and Design at University. She lists her hobbies as babysitting and imitating people’s walks! Basilla speaks Kiswahili and English.|
|TRINIDAD & TOBAGO||Jeanette Marie La Caille||22||1,80m||Brown||Hazel||Jeanette is a final year language student at the University of the West Indies. She speaks 5 languages and her ambition is to enter the Foreign Service. Her hobbies are Latin dancing and swimming.|
|TURKEY||Buket Saygi||21||1,77m||Brown||Brown||Buket is studying architecture and decoration and is also a professional model. Her ambition is to set up her own decoration company with her sister. Her hobbies are bowling, reading and gymnastics. Buket speaks Turkish and English.|
|UKRAINE||Natalya Nadtochey||23||1,78m||Black||Brown||Natalya is a student. Her hobbies are socialising and having picnics! Natalya speaks English.|
|UNITED KINGDOM||Emmalene McLoughlin||18||5ft7||Fair||Brown||Emmalene is a qualified florist and her ambition is to own her own floristry demonstration business. She also enjoys art and design, netball and swimming.|
|UNITED STATES||Shauna Gene Gambill||22||5ft8||Blonde||Green||Shauna is a law student and hopes to become an attorney for victim’s rights. Her hobbies include rollerblading, snow sports, cycling, golf and horseriding. Shauna speaks a little Spanish.|
|URUGUAY||Desiree Fernandez Mautone||22||1,84m||Brown||Black||Desiree is a professional model and her ambition is to succeed on an international level. Her hobbies are reading, playing chess and dancing.|
|VENEZUELA||Veronica Schneider Rodriguez||19||1,75m||Brown||Dark|
|Veronica is a student of computer science and a model. She enjoys reading, listening to music and playing tennis. Her ambition is to be successful in her career as a model and to work in television. Veronica speaks Spanish and a little Hebrew.|
|YUGOSLAVIA||Jelena Jakovljevic||19||1,79m||Brown||Brown||Jelena is a student and part-time model and her ambition is to be an architect. In her spare time she enjoys sports, drawing, writing and socialising.|
|ZAMBIA||Chisala Chibesa||20||1,74m||Black||Brown||Chisala is a student and model and her ambition is to be a lawyer. Her hobbies are listening to “Rhythm and Blues” Music very loudly, reading and cooking.|
|ZIMBABWE||Annette Kambarami||20||1,75m||Brown and black||Brown||Annette is a university student whose ambition is to be a marketing consultant. Her hobbies include squash, volleyball and basketball.|
MISS WORLD 1998 FINALS.-
On the morning of Thursday, November 26, the girls were combed and made-up by a team of experts to be ready for the grand finale. The show, produced by GEM’s Julie Clive along with Ian Stewart, executive produced by Initial’s Malcolm Gerrie and directed by Hamish Hamilton, began at 8:30 p.m. local time in Seychelles. UK Channel 5 broadcast it at 9 p.m. London time and the program was preceded, a day before, with the broadcast of the special “Making Miss World”. In Venezuela, it was seen an hour late at 1:30 p.m. The transmission began with aerial shots of the Berjaya Mahe Beach Resort lagoon and the scenery, set on the calm waters of the lagoon, with water as the theme to coincide with the International Year of the Oceans declared by the United Nations. The tide level was adequate and concealed the metal frame under the platform where the 86 contestants would walk and pose in groups before a panel of judges. The opening began with the contestants leaving, one after the other, in two rows, dressed in casual clothes and tennis shoes, dancing to the Errol Brown theme song “You Sexy Thing”, with choreography by Bruno Tonioli. The beach was full of young Seychelles who were humming the song:
“I believe in miracles
Where’re you from, you sexy thing, sexy thing you
I believe in miracles
Since you came along, you sexy thing”
The opening closed with all the girls dancing on stage with Errol Brown. Then the presenter of the night, Ronan Keating, arrived on stage, who after brief words of welcome, presented a video with spectacular views of the Seychelles, narrated by Kara Noble, along with images of the arrival of the 86 contestants to the Island of Mahe, venue of the event. Then the co-host, the Israeli actress Eden Harel of MTV Europe, proceeded to introduced the panel of judges who were in a kind of raised hut on the beach, distributed in three tables, two tables behind with four of them in each one and a front table with Eric Morley and scrutineer David Boyd. The judges were:
01.- Mica Paris, English singer, actress and presenter.
02.- Jonah Lomu, New Zealand Sports Personality of the Year and the country’s best rugby player.
03.- Sophie Dahl, British plus size supermodel.
04.- Terry O’Neill, famous British photographer.
05.- Pilín León, Miss World 1981 from Venezuela.
06.- Jacques Villeneuve, Canadian Formula One driver.
07.- Diana Hayden, Miss World 1997 from India.
08.- Marc Newson, Australian lifestyle designer.
09.- Eric Morley, Chairman of the Miss World Organization.
After the judges was known, Keating presented on video the first group of contestants who introduced themselves and commented on their experiences in Seychelles, from a beach on Praslin Island. This year the presentation of the candidates in alphabetical order was ruled out, but the 86 girls were divided into eight groups. The first group was made up of the Misses of Malta, Turkey, Saint Maarten, Seychelles, Italy, Croatia, Bolivia, South Africa, Ecuador, Jamaica and Aruba. After the video, the candidates presented themselves, one by one, with their Day Outfits, from a designer from their countries of origin, a dress that they would wear, for example, for the wedding of her best friend. This parade replaced the Spectacular Costume that had been presented since 1995. As the girls marched down the many steps that made up the stage, Kara Noble gave details of each one. The girls, once presented, were placed on a platform that rested on the waters of the lagoon. The themes “Soul Bossa Nova” from the Austin Powers film “International Man of Mystery” and Dimitri de Paris’ “A Very Stylish Girl” were used in the background.
The second group, from Mahe, included representatives from Germany, Switzerland, France, Mauritius, American Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Japan, Australia, Korea, Lithuania and the United Kingdom. The first block of transmission was fired with a video of the participants singing Cindy Lauper’s song “Hey Now, Girls Wants to Have Fun” from the pool at the Mahe Beach Resort. The next group appeared on the return of commercials, and they were young women from Hungary, Malaysia, Chile, Zimbabwe, Dominican Republic, United States, Colombia, Sweden, Finland, Liberia and Slovakia. The fourth group was presented from La Digue Island with the candidates from Belgium, Botswana, Holland, Nigeria, Cyprus, Nepal, Guatemala, Cayman Islands and Curaçao. Eden Harel presented a video of the candidates’ visit to Paris, where they walked and shopped and participated in the charity auction on board a ship.
After the second block of commercials, the fifth group appeared doing sports from Grand Anse, they were the girls from Tanzania, Canada, Brazil, Trinidad-Tobago, Argentina, New Zealand, Poland, Zambia, Hong Kong, Spain and Israel. And doing aerobics on the beach, the sixth group of candidates was presented with the participants from Estonia, Ireland, Ghana, Lebanon, Swaziland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, Uruguay and Czech Republic. In the individual parade in Day Outfit, Miss Ghana tripped and fell to the ground from length to length … precisely that was the fear of all the candidates due to the number of steps and the reflectors that dazzled them. Despite the fall and the blow, Miss Ghana recovered and continued to parade very professionally as if nothing, although her face denoted pain and sorrow…
And from the beach where Roman Polanski filmed scenes for the movie “Pirates” the sixth group of entrants from Chinese Taipei, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Singapore, Bahamas, Panama, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Norway appeared. Due to technical problems, the video of Miss Bulgaria did not come out, only her voice was heard. And the last group, made up of girls from Ukraine, Russia, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia, Peru, India, Philippines, Angola, Nicaragua and Paraguay, performed from a beach in Mahe while playing beach volleyball. While this group of contestants went to the dressing rooms to put on their evening dresses, Eden interviewed Miss Nigeria and Miss United Kingdom from the backstage, who were already ready in their elegant evening dresses, just before saying goodbye to the segment.
After returning from commercials, the evening gown parade began, with the girls emerging three at a time from both ends and from the center of the stage, one from each group per exit. Miss Zimbabwe came out with a soaring fake cone on her head, which got caught in the backstage curtains. Then, Eden presented a video of the backstage of the private interview with the judges that took place the day before, talking with some of the candidates and with some judges as well. While the viewer public saw those images, the 86 candidates gathered on stage waiting for the results. Then Keating called the judge Jacques Villeneuve to the stage to unveil the winner of the BEST DESIGNER’S GOWN, which corresponded to Miss FINLAND (Maaret Saija Nousiainen) an elegant white dress fitted to the body in latex. Keating then proceeded to name the ten semi-finalists in random order. As they were called, Kara Noble commented on details of each one, but omitted the first two, perhaps due to some fault in the microphone. They were Miss ISRAEL, Miss PERU, Miss CHILE, Miss FRANCE, Miss BRAZIL, Miss UNITED STATES, Miss JAMAICA, Miss SOUTH AFRICA, Miss MALAYSIA and Miss CZECH REPUBLIC.
|01||Miss ISRAEL||Linor Abargil||18||Netanya|
|02||Miss PERU||Mariana Larrabure de Orbegoso||22||Trujillo|
|03||Miss CHILE||Daniella Andrea Campos Lathrop||21||Santiago|
|04||Miss FRANCE||Véronique Caloc||23||Fort-de-France, Martinique|
|05||Miss BRAZIL||Adriana Luci de Souza Reis||19||Ouro Branco, Minas Gerais|
|06||Miss UNITED STATES||Shauna Gene Gambill||22||Los Angeles, California|
|07||Miss JAMAICA||Christine Renée Straw||18||Kingston|
|08||Miss SOUTH AFRICA||Kerishnie Naicker||25||Reservoir Hills, Durban|
|09||Miss MALAYSIA||Lina Teoh Pik Lim||22||Malacca|
|10||Miss CZECH REPUBLIC||Alena Seredova||20||Prague|
For the second consecutive year, the Venezuelan candidate was left out and the great favorite, Miss India, did not get in either. Right away, Eden presented a video where she herself showed the prizes that the new Miss World would receive (See AWARDS). Wasting no time, the round of interviews began with the lucky ten while Eden cheer them up from the backstage. Instead of talking about themselves, they talked about their friends and their future careers. Each finalist had to show a photo of the person who had been the most special during the competition. Many of them showed photos of their roommates: Miss Israel showed the photo of Miss Canada, Miss Peru that of Miss Paraguay, Miss Chile that of Miss Nicaragua, Miss Brazil that of Miss Trinidad & Tobago, Miss United States that of Miss Malaysia and vice versa. Others, their best friends: Miss Jamaica chose Miss Cayman Islands, Miss South Africa to Miss Seychelles and Miss Czech Republic to Miss Slovakia, without being ‘roommates’. Two pairs of ‘roommates’ reached the Top 10 (Malaysia-USA and Jamaica-South Africa). Miss France decided to also show the photo of Miss Seychelles since she apparently did not have a good relationship with Miss Mauritius. Four of the girls (Peru, Chile, France and Brazil) used an interpreter. The latter even danced some samba!! After the last commercial cut, Eden introduced the group Boyzone, led by Ronan Keating, accompanied by Keith Duffy, Stephen Gately, Michael Graham and Shane Lynch with the theme “I Love the Way You Love Me”.
Before giving the final results, they presented a video with the images of the ten semifinalists during their participation that night, a kind of “Final Look”, again with the voiceover of Kara Noble. The ten lucky young women took their positions on stage before Keating proceeded to call out the outgoing Miss World Diana Hayden, Julia and Eric Morley on stage to announce the judges’ verdict. Then Eric Morley gave the results in reverse order as was his custom, out of the ten semi-finalists, as the shortened program did not give time to call five of them as in previous years. Due to time constraints, this year a segment was not dedicated to “Beauty with a Purpose”, the motto of Miss World. The only charity activity that took place this year was the national gift auction in Paris. Then Eric Morley announced that the SECOND RUNNER-UP was Miss MALAYSIA (Lina Teoh Pik Lim), an actress and model; and the FIRST RUNNER-UP, Miss FRANCE (Véronique Caloc), a language student. Julia Morley, as was traditional, placed the tiaras on the heads of the two finalists.
And the moment of truth arrived. One of the eight young women who remained on stage would be the 48th Miss World in history. And the new MISS WORLD 1998 was … Miss ISRAEL !. The surprised Linor Abargil a student with brown eyes (who liked to wear a lot of shadow on them), curly brown hair, 18 years old, 5 feet 9 inches tall, who expected to fulfill her mandatory military service the following year and who never Sounded like a favorite, gave the first (and so far only) Miss World crown to Israel, a country that just celebrated its 50 years of independence in 1998. Coincidence or not, Israel became independent in 1948 and this was the 48th edition of the contest and Eden, the host of the event, was also from Israel !!. Eden was open-mouthed with excitement !! Julia attached the sash to the excited and incredulous Linor, as she sat on the throne in her white chiffon full-skirted dress, to be crowned by the outgoing queen, India´s Diana Hayden. The triumphant walk of the new Miss World was with the Tom Jones theme “She’s a Lady” while fireworks exploded over the lagoon in celebration. After being crowned, Abargil, who said she wanted to be a lawyer after finishing her studies, smiled and greeted the cheering crowd. The first to congratulate Linor was Miss Malaysia. Thus concluded the broadcast of the 1 hour and 43 minute contest, including commercials. The Coronation Party was then held in the pool area of the Berjaya Mahe Beach hotel and where the continental beauty queens and the other two finalists were announced as well as the award ceremony for the winner.
MISS SEYCHELLES WAS HAPPY.-
Miss Seychelles, Alvina Grand’Court, said she was happy that her tireless efforts to be a good hostess had been recognized as a sister who the other 85 Miss World ’98 contestants could trust. She said that she believed that was why two finalists in the pageant said that she had been a special person during the event and that it contributed to her being named Miss Personality in both Miss World and Miss Seychelles, which surprised her. She said that she intended to sit down with the Miss Seychelles Association team to determine priorities and be able to carry out the tasks that she was to perform as Miss Seychelles.
The THIRD RUNNER-UP was Miss CZECH REPUBLIC (Alena Seredova) and the FOURTH RUNNER-UP, Miss SOUTH AFRICA (Kerishnie Naicker). The Continental Beauty Queens were:
|AFRICA||Miss SOUTH AFRICA||Kerishnie Naicker|
|AMERICAS||Miss CHILE||Daniella Andrea Campos Lathrop|
|ASIA & OCEANIA||Miss MALAYSIA||Lina Teoh Pik Lim|
|CARIBBEAN ISLANDS||Miss JAMAICA||Christine Renée Straw|
|EUROPE||Miss ISRAEL||Linor Abargil|
The following awards were presented on behalf of the Seychelles and the organization to the winners of Miss World 1998 during the Coronation Ball:
* Miss World 1998 received from the Miss World Organization: US $ 100,000 in cash composed as follows: US $ 15,000 in cash prizes upon her election. $ 50,000 at a rate of $ 5,000 per month for ten months. $ 35,000 after crowning her successor. (Plus 75% of all earnings over $ 100,000).
* By Seychelles and Sponsor Awards:
SEYCHELLES GOLDCARD, the world’s first environmental visa for a long-term “Friends of Seychelles” membership and unlimited access to some of the most unspoiled natural sites in the world. A SCEPTER OF GOLD AND SILVER valued at US $ 30,000 specially commissioned from the most outstanding young sculptor from Slovenia, Sebastjan Persolja who was presented to the new Miss World by the Seychelles Trade Commissioner in Slovenia, Dusan Cernigoj, on behalf of the Government of Seychelles. Cernigoj was in fact the sponsor of the project. A SEYCHELLES HOLIDAY PACKAGE comprising 2 Air Seychelles Pearl Class roundtrip tickets from Europe and a one week full board stay at the Beau Vallon Bay & Casino at the Berjaya Resort on the island of Mahe. A WEEK OF HOLIDAY at Berjaya Tioman Beach Resort, Malaysia, on a full board basis plus two roundtrip airfare from Kuala Lumpur to Tioman Island. 18K JEWELRY from the Italian jewelry house “Roberta”. A SPECIAL BEAUTY PACKAGE from international hairdressers and estheticians from Jacques Dessange. A commemorative gift from LOUIS VUITTON’s French luxury luggage storage. A set of GOLD JEWELRY specially crafted by the Seychelles Kreol’or jewelers, consisting of an 18-karat necklace, a bracelet and a pair of earrings, a pearl and shells. The company also awarded the winner of the Miss Photogenic title with a jewelry set that included a necklace and earrings. According to CEO Claudio Izzi, both awards would be presented in original jewelry boxes made locally by the company’s new handicraft section. And as a Special Gift from the People of Seychelles, in special collaboration with Bonbardier, the Canadian manufacturers of luxury private jets, offered Miss World 1998 the latest edition of an ECOLOGICAL ELECTRIC CAR for her personal use when visiting the islands.
* The sponsors presented Miss Personality (Miss Seychelles) and Miss Photogenic (Miss Brazil) with a cash prize of US $ 3,000 each.
* Presented by the Miss World Organization to the finalists: 2nd. Prize (Miss France): US $ 10,000, 3rd. Prize (Miss Malaysia): US $ 5,000, 4th. Prize (Miss Czech Republic): US $ 2,000 and 5th. Prize (Miss South Africa): US $ 1,000. Miss Chile and Miss Jamaica for being Continental Queens: US $ 1,000 each. (The other three did not receive it for having reached the Top 5). Designer Daywear (Miss Australia): US $ 1,000 and Designer Evening Wear (Miss Finland): US $ 1,000.
1.4 BILLION PEOPLE WATCHED MISS WORLD.-
The organizers of the Miss World ’98 pageant received the communication midway through the event that 1.4 billion people around the world were watching the program on television, according to said on Friday, the 27th, the director of Communications and Public Relations of Miss World, Gilbert Pool at the Berjaya Mahe Beach Hotel when newly crowned Miss World Linor Abargil appeared for her first press interview. Before formally inviting the new title holder to speak to the press, Pool said Thursday night’s event was broadcast to 130 countries and that nine new terrestrial stations in Europe had joined the list of television networks that they broadcast the show. The director said that there was very good coordination between the Miss World team, the Government of Seychelles and the television company (INITIAL) that transmitted the program to the world by satellite. The Seychelles Islands again had the option of mounting the Miss World contest in 1999, for the third year in a row, but it was still too early to tell.
Julia Morley, agreed with Pool’s sentiments, adding that there was excellent teamwork between everyone who provided transportation and security. She also greeted the hotel workers and all the Seychelles people that she had shown great hospitality. Ms. Morley made a special mention of the television crew who, according to her, did a wonderful job using modern technology. In the United Kingdom, the pageant was seen by 3 million viewers through Channel 5. By the way, in that country, a photo of Prince Charles’s mistress, Camilla Parker-Bowles, was used in a swimsuit and the sash of Miss United Kingdom to publicize the broadcast of the contest, which infuriated both Camilla and the Prince himself. Monica Lewinsky’s was also used with the body of Miss USA with the caption “Will Miss USA blow the jury again?” in clear allusion to the oral sex scandal between Lewinsky and US President Bill Clinton.
FIRST STATEMENTS OF MISS WORLD 1998.-
The newly crowned Miss World, Israeli Linor Abargil, made it clear on Friday, November 27, that she did not want to push the limits of her new position too far. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do exactly, but I just want to celebrate and have fun,” she said at the press conference given to the media from the Berjaya Mahe Beach Hotel. The brand new Miss World arrived for her first press interview aboard an eco-friendly electric car that she received as part of her award package for winning the title. Miss World’s technical consultant Graham Beggs drove her to the gardens of the Berjaya Mahe Beach Hotel aboard a Bombardier electric car that used rechargeable batteries. Mr. Beggs explained that the car had been brought to the Seychelles by the Bombardier Company, which manufactured jet engines for testing under tropical conditions and that it was relatively new, yet to be seen elsewhere. He said the car was very ideal for small island states where the distances to be covered were not great, which is why Bombardier and Indian Ocean Results had joined the Miss World organizers for the ongoing tests in Seychelles. The car had a range of 55 km when fully loaded and could reach the speed of 40 km / h. When charging it, he said it did not draw more current than an air conditioner and was therefore economical to run.
Speaking during the occasion, the newly crowned Miss World, Linor Abargil, said her career plans were changed, referring to the press to Ms Morley for an answer when asked what her plans were and said that she had informed her boyfriend of 27 years of her victory. However, she told reporters that she preferred to answer questions related to her and “not other people” when the journalists were hinting at her boyfriend, whom she said he owned a newspaper. She further said that she looked forward to receiving advice from Diana Hayden, the Miss World ’97 who had been a judge in the pageant. On the night of the same day, a farewell party was held at the hotel.
MISS WORLD COMPLAINTS THAT SHE WAS RAPED.-
In an effort to encourage other rape victims to come forward, the reigning Miss World said on Saturday, November 28, that she was raped, tied up and strangled by a travel agent in Italy. Italian police confirmed that the new Miss World, Linor Abargil from Israel, reported that she was raped while she was in Italy for a fashion show, British newspapers reported. Abargil told police she was attacked on October 6, seven weeks before she was elected Miss World, after going to a travel agency to buy a plane ticket to Rome, where she planned to meet her mother before flying home. The London Times and several other newspapers reported. Since then, the Egyptian owner of the travel agency had been arrested and charged for the attack, the newspapers said. Julia Morley told the News of the World newspaper that neither she nor Abargil would comment on the report. Abargil could not be located and a member of her family who answered the phone at Abargil’s home in Israel declined to comment. Abargil told police that the man, who was not named in her reports, offered to take her to Rome because he had business there and all flights were booked, newspapers said. She told police that he ran off the road shortly after starting the trip, tied her up and sexually assaulted her.
“It went on and on for about two hours,” the News of the World quoted Abargil as telling Italian police. Abargil told police that after the attack, the man tried to apologize as he drove back to Milan, newspapers said. In the morning, Abargil took a train to Rome and went with his mother to tell police what had happened, newspapers reported. Milan police released details of an assault on an Israeli model at the time and on Friday confirmed the identity of the victims to ANSA, Italy’s government-backed national news agency, newspapers reported.
“When I heard that an Israeli girl won the (Miss World) pageant, I suddenly remembered that we had written an article in October about an Israeli model,” ANSA’s Columba told The Times. “I decided to check it out and went to the Borgho police station. They let me go through the October documents and compared the names. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the name.” Details were only released after a court lifted a gag order. On her side, Shlomo Nour, the Egyptian accused of raping the new Miss World, admitted to having sex with her, but said it was consensual and that it was not in his BMW, but “briefly in my apartment, in the couch”. Abargil, 19, said the rape happened after she accepted her offer in Milan from her to take her to Rome. The Egyptian Nour had been accused of rape in 1990 by his secretary, but was acquitted at trial. When asked why Abargil would make up a rape tale, Nour replied, “The Jewish community here is jealous because I have a good travel agency and I make more money than most.” He ran a travel agency in the suburbs of Milan. Linor had been rumored to have won the Miss World crown as a result of the crime committed against her, which her lawyers flatly denied.
THE REIGN OF MISS WORLD ’98.-
Linor and Julia Morley arrived at London Gatwick Airport on Monday, November 30 after fulfilling some scheduled commitments in the Seychelles. Her mother Aliza was waiting for her at the airport, very happy for her daughter’s triumph. Her first international activity was her visit as a special guest at the “Essen Motor Show” in Essen, Germany, on Thursday, December 3. The Essen fair featured 550 exhibitors from different countries on that occasion. On Friday, December 4, she was her triumphant return to Netanya, Israel, where she received a heroin welcome from hundreds of people, including the Mayor of the city. She said she hoped to postpone her 20-month mandatory military service that was due to begin in April to allow her to fulfill her annual Miss World duties and continue her media studies at university. “I can assure you that this is the same Linor who boarded the plane to Seychelles. I came back with only a small crown on my head. I promised to fulfill all expectations and be the best ‘Snow White’ in Israel. I am proud to represent Israel,” she said the brand new Miss World. Netanya residents, from children to the elderly, waited in the main square to see Abargil, who arrived with her crown. One of the first things Abargil did, after coming to her land, was to help with this year’s fundraising promotion for the Israeli branch of the Variety Club. The sale of 200,000 gold heart pins was expected to raise more than $ 300,000 for needy children in Israel.
In early 1999, Miss World 1998 alleged that a travel agent raped and tried to kill her in Italy in October, and Israeli police said they had strong evidence against her. Linor Abargil made the announcement in a press release on Thursday, January 14, after Israeli police arrested the alleged rapist, identified as Shlomo Nur, 43, with dual Israeli-Egyptian citizenship, and the Tel- Aviv lifted a gag order on the incident at Abargil’s request. Police said Abargil had filed a complaint about the alleged crimes on October 15, but the information was kept secret so that Nur would not know that the Israeli authorities were looking for him. Nur’s appointed attorney said he denied the allegations. Abargil said that she had come to Italy at the invitation of the Milan agency “Look Now” to participate in modeling auditions. After several weeks she decided to return to Israel and the modeling agency sent her to Nur’s travel agency in Milan because Nur was Israeli. “On October 5, 1998, I contacted Nur, who informed me that the flights to Israel were full.” He suggested that he take a train to Rome and a flight from there. The next day he said that he was having difficulty finding a place on a train, so he offered to take her to the Italian capital. She accepted the offer. She said: “We left towards the end of that day. At a certain point in the trip, Nur stopped the car in an unfamiliar location and sat next to me in the back seat.” “He pulled out a knife with which he threatened me and raped me.” She alleged that he tied her up, gagged her with duct tape, and tried to strangle her with rope and a plastic bag. Abargil said that after she got into trouble with Nur, he released her and begged her not to contact the police. Abargil said that she tried to remain calm and promised Nur that she would not file a complaint against her. Nur took her back to Milan, where she took a train to Rome, met her mother, went to a hospital for tests, and then went to the Italian police. She submitted a report to the Israeli police on October 15. Italian police arrested Nur, who allegedly said she had given her consent to the meeting, and a judge released him.
Abargil’s attorney, David Liba’i, said Miss World did not testify before the Italian judge. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice issued Nur’s extradition request after it was discovered that he had Israeli citizenship. Nur was promptly arrested on Saturday night, January 9, by Israeli police after his flight landed at Ben Gurion Airport. He was in Israel to appear in court for an unrelated civil case. The head of the investigation, Police Superintendent Yaffa Golan, told reporters that Goren’s gag order had worked and Nur “did not know there was an arrest warrant.” Police said Israeli law applied to Abargil’s case because, although the alleged crime was committed abroad, both Abargil and Nur were Israeli. Nur’s designated lawyer in Israel, Inbal Rubinstein, said his client had “proven” his version of the story to investigators in Milan, who released him without bail after a week in detention. Rubinstein told a TV channel that Nur had put Abargil in his apartment the day before the alleged rape “and there were sexual acts with her consent.” According to Superintendent Golan, Nur told his Israeli interrogators that he had consulted his lawyer in Milan before traveling to Israel. The lawyer told him that since he had been questioned in Milan and released, there was no possibility that he would be questioned again in Israel. An Israeli court extended Nur’s pre-trial detention and it could be extended again on Sunday when he appears in court again. Abargil’s story was unusual in Israel, a country that concealed the identity of rape victims. She said that she wanted to set an example for other women who did not report being raped. She added: “I am not ashamed of the incident. I did not cause it, and I never imagined that I would encounter such a dire situation.” She said that she intended to keep her schedule as Miss World.
On February 16, Linor co-hosted the “Brit Awards” in London. She also attended the Variety Club International Telethon at Adventureland Palace Theater in Altoona, Iowa, on Saturday, February 27 with Diana Hayden, Miss World 1997, to raise funds and purchase Sunshine coaches to transport disabled children around the world. To date, the Variety Club had given 193 coaches to Iowa groups. In addition, she had been a strong supporter of the Blank Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; the Variety Club Pediatric Heart Center at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines; the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Variety Club at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids; and the Marian Health Center in Sioux City. In addition, she supported treatment shelters and emergency facilities for young people. Perhaps her biggest fundraiser has been “Cash for Kids,” a Grocery Industry Association that has amassed more than $ 8.5 million for disabled and underprivileged children. She was also present at Eurovision in 1999.
On Sunday June 6, Linor Abargil, Miss World, gave tearful testimony from her rape trial in a closed fourth session in Tel Aviv while testifying against an Egyptian immigrant accused of raping her, lawyers said. Shlomo Uri Nur, who had Israeli citizenship, allegedly kidnapped and raped the Israeli in Italy on October 6, and had pleaded not guilty. Linor Abargil’s testimony was given behind closed doors in the Tel Aviv District Court under a law that protected rape victims. Linor cried Sunday as she retold the story. Finally, on Wednesday October 6, 1999, just one year after what happened, Nur was convicted of kidnapping and raping the reigning Miss World. Abargil said she hoped the high-profile case would encourage other sexual assault victims to come forward. “I want to shout out loud to all the women who complain, to tell the police,” Linor said after the Tel Aviv District Court ruling. “Do not be afraid”. The defendant, Shlomo Uri Nur, an immigrant from Egypt, complained that he did not receive a fair trial because he “was not 100% Israeli.” Nur, who was facing up to 30 years in prison, said he would appeal the conviction. Sentencing hearings were scheduled for December. And so it was, on December 29, Nur was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the crime of rape against Linor Abargil, who, on that occasion, did not go to court.
BIOGRAPHY OF LINOR ABARGIL.-
Linor Abargil was born on February 17, 1980 in Netanya, Israel, being the eldest daughter of Jackie and Aliza Abargil, Jews of Libyan-Moroccan origin. She has a sister and a brother. In 1996, at age 16, she was hired by the “Look Now” modeling agency and won the title of “Discovery of the Year” in the 1997 modeling contest. In 1998, at age 18, she was named Miss Israel. For not having turned 18 before February 1 as required by Miss Universe, she went on to compete in Miss World in Seychelles where she finally won the crown on November 26. In October, almost a month before traveling to Miss World, she was raped in Milan, Italy. “I was afraid to leave home and did not want to go to Miss World. But with the support of my mother, I agreed to represent my country,” she said later. Following her triumph as Miss World, Linor returned home to Israel to gain greater fame and public attention, which she claimed made it difficult for her to deal with her ongoing trauma and made it difficult for her to perform her duties as Miss World. Frustrated by the refusal of the Italian authorities to pursue the case, she Abargil reported the rape to the Israeli authorities, who issued an arrest warrant for Nur and began an extradition process. After her rapist was sentenced to 16 years in prison, he was granted parole in 2009, but Abargil organized a campaign against her release and he eventually served his entire sentence. By this time, she had already become a well-known activist, and she asked other women to follow her example and report her assaults to the police.
After relinquishing her Miss World crown in London in December 1999, Abargil continued to work as a model at home and internationally, and enrolled to study drama at the Beit Zvi School of Performing Arts. In December of that year, Israel excused Linor from military service, thanking for her service to her country and for raising awareness of the rape. In 2000 she attended the celebration of the 50 years of Miss World in London. Subsequently, she appeared in various plays and television series. She participated in the films “The Mitzvah” and “The Blue Room”. However, between her decision to become an Orthodox Jew in 2009, which ended her modeling, and her commitment to fighting sexual violence, Abargil decided to take a new direction and decided to study law at the Netanya Academic College. She then went on to work for the Tel Aviv district attorney. In 2008, Abargil began filming a documentary based on her rape and her subsequent activism, called “Brave Miss World”, directed by Cecilia Peck. In 2005, Linor was voted the 89th best Israeli of all time, in a poll conducted by the Israeli news website. Abargil married Lithuanian basketball player Sarunas Jasikevicius in June 2006 in a civil ceremony near Barcelona, Spain, and on Sunday July 9, 2006 the religious ceremony was held in Tel-Aviv. The couple moved to Los Angeles and started a lingerie company. They divorced in mid-2008. In December 2008, she launched her website http://www.bravemissworld.com. In April 2009 she lectured in Cleveland, Ohio at the Rape Crisis Center there and in December of that same year she traveled to South Africa to support rape victims. In May 2010, in Netanya, Abargil married the producer and director in the field of entertainment Oron Calfon, whom she met in 2009 and embraced Orthodox Judaism. In May 2011, she gave birth to twins (a son and a daughter), while in November 2013 and September 2019, she gave birth to two other daughters. Abargil also earned a law degree from Netanya Academic College in June 2012 and was admitted to the Israel Bar Association. In June 2013 she was invited to the US White House to speak about violence against women and in December of that year her film “Brave Miss World” was released. Since 2014 the film is on NETFLIX. Also in 2014, Linor attended the FICCI (Industry Voice for Policy Change) summit in New Delhi where she spoke about gender-based violence in commemoration of Women’s Day. From that year on she dedicated herself to speaking publicly about overcoming trauma and empowering women, in Israel, and around the world. In 2017, together with her friend, businesswoman Yafit Attias, Abargil launched a fashion brand aimed at satisfying the needs of religious women for modesty. They named the line LYA, an amalgamation of the initials of both women. Linor refrained from working in the fashion industry, despite being offered it. There were few campaigns and photographs that she had taken since then. She continues to live in Netanya with her husband and her children.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER.-
* SPECIAL OF E! .- In January 1999 the one-hour special of E! about Miss World ’98 they did in the Seychelles, following the steps of Miss USA in that event.
* BERJAYA MAHE BEACH RESORT.- Opened on November 8, 1975 and designed by Graham McCullough, the 352-room hotel represented an investment of US $ 4.4 million. First it belonged to the Sheraton hotel chain and then it went on to that of Berjaya. The hotel closed its doors in January 2008 and became a completely abandoned ghost building in Port Glaud, where you can still see its ruins, which are visited by adventurous tourists.
* “BRAVE MISS WORLD”.- The film, which began shooting in 2008, followed Abargil as she traveled the world lecturing to groups and meeting women and encouraging them to talk about their experiences with sexual violence. The film also documents her attempts to deal with the aftermath of the violence she experienced, her relationships with her family members, her eventual acceptance of Orthodox Judaism (after which she stopped modeling), the campaign to keep Nur imprisoned, her decision to study law and work for the Prosecutor’s Office, and the release of a song she wrote about forgiveness between mother and daughter after the daughter was raped. At the end of the film, Abargil retraces her steps in Italy, before and after the rape, meets those who helped her, such as the examining doctor, and confronts the modeling agents whom she considers responsible for sending her and to other young women knowingly, women in danger from known sexual predators. The film also follows Abargil’s personal life, her marriage, the birth of her first two children, and her spiritual journey. “Brave Miss World” premiered on Israeli television in June 2013, to positive reviews and public reception, and screened at various film festivals in the United States and Europe during 2013 and 2014. The film was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Best Documentary.
To watch the video click here: https://www.vudu.com/content/movies/details/Brave-Miss-World/734836
* RELEASED – Shlomo Nur was released in 2014 after serving his 16-year prison sentence. No more was heard from him.
* THOSE WHO ARE GONE – Singer Errol Brown died of liver cancer at his home in the Bahamas on May 6, 2015. For his part, Boyzone singer Stephen Gately ceased to exist at age 33 on October 18, 2009 of pulmonary edema at his home in Port d’Andratx, Mallorca (Spain). From the judges, Jonah Lomu died on November 18, 2015 of a heart attack at the age of 40 and Terry O’Neill passed away on November 16, 2019 of prostate cancer at age 81.
FROM THE OTHER CONTESTANTS.-
Candidates from Belgium, Cayman Islands, Ireland, Lebanon and Switzerland competed in Miss Universe ’99 in Trinidad-Tobago. Miss Jamaica participated in Miss Universe 2004 in Ecuador, reaching the Top 10. Miss Nicaragua was a semifinalist in Miss International ’99 where the Lebanese also participated, and was the 4th runner-up in World Miss University 2001 where the Brazilian also competed, who finished fifth. The Nicaraguan was also 5th. runner-up in Miss Latin America 2000. Miss Hungary won Miss Tourism Planet 2004. Miss Mexico was the 1st runner-up of Miss American Continent ’99 and also participated in the International Flowers Queen 2000. The Peruvian was semifinalist in Miss Mesoamerica 2001. The Dominican was 3rd. runner-up of the World Queen of the Pacific 2000 and winner of the Miss Tourism Universe 2000. Miss Philippines was 2nd. runner-up at Miss Tourism World 2000. Miss Brazil was registered to participate in Miss Earth 2002 but did not compete. She participated in Miss Minas Gerais 2002 and was in 3rd. place. Her sister Luciana Bertolini, was Miss Brazil World 2009. As a curious fact, both sisters are from Minas Gerais but they represented other states (Rondonia and Roraima) in Miss Brazil.
The French Véronique Caloc became a renowned singer in Martinique and has released several albums. Malaysian Lina Teoh took up acting and she also hosted numerous TV shows in her country. Then, she moved to Melbourne, Australia. She is married to Jamie Quah and has two children. Czech Alena Seredova started her modeling career in 2002. She was chosen by Italian comedian Giorgio Panariello to co-host his own primetime TV show “Torno Sabato”. She has appeared on the covers of various magazines, including Penthouse Europe, Playboy Europe, Spy, Extreme, and Quo. In 2005, she was chosen to pose in Max Calendar. She also dabbled in acting. Alena married Italian national soccer goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon in June 2011 and separated from him in May 2014. They have a son named Louis Thomas Buffon, who was born on December 28, 2007. Their second son, David Lee, was born on November 1, 2009 in Milan, Italy. She has a sister named Eliska, who is also a model. Alena is co-owner of the Italian clothing line (Baci e Abbracci) along with Buffon’s former national teammate Christian Vieri. Since 2014, Seredová has been in a relationship with Italian businessman Alessandro Nasi. They have a baby girl who was born in 2020. South African Kerishnie Naicker became a public speaker and emcee, as well as a pharmacist, health activist and businesswoman. She was Director of Communications for Netcare until 2017. American Shauna Gambill married her longtime boyfriend Mitch Gerth in Santa Barbara, California on October 23, 2000. Today she is a mother of four children. In 2004 she was a judge on Miss Teen USA. Jamaican Christine Straw currently runs a restaurant in Kingston, she is today Mrs. Hadid and she has a daughter.
Chilean Daniella Campos is a journalist, she has a twin sister (Denisse Campos), and both have starred in various scandals and controversies, with which they have managed to make news and stay in the Chilean entertainment media. After her relationship with Iván Zamorano, she was with Nicolás Lapentti (2002-2003), José Sapag (2004) and Vicente Leguina (2004-2009). She has a daughter named Florencia Augusta. Peruvian Mariana Larrabure was involved in several scandals. She was first accused along with her brother of mistreating her late mother in 2008. She denied the charges. The mess was allegedly due to a dispute over a family inheritance. Then, in July 2010, she was intervened by the police because she had 65 grams of marijuana and about 15 packages in her apartment, in Miraflores. What was allowed for personal consumption was 8 grams. Next to her, her boyfriend, César Belaunde Montero, was arrested; her brother Eduardo Larrabure and his wife, Rocío Zapata. “We found a lot of marijuana scattered,” declared a watchman. Four months after being arrested for the crime of drug trafficking, the 58th Criminal Court of Lima declared her innocent. Mariana, who remained in the Chorrillos prison for just over a month, promised to stop smoking marijuana to avoid new problems with the law. She currently runs a fashion production company named after her in Trujillo and she is the mother of Cayetana who was born in 2019 from her relationship with José Vidal.
Miss Aruba, Judelca Briceño, works as Senior Health and Sports Policy Advisor for the Aruba government. Another who went into politics was Miss Austria, Sabine Lindorfer. In 2017 she participated in the national election for Councilors but was unsuccessful. She has also dedicated herself to moderating special events and TV programs. She is married with a daughter and lives in Feldkirchen an der Donau. Australian Sarah-Jane St. Clair currently lives in Berlin, Germany away from the world of show business. Miss Bahamas, LeTeasha Ingraham-Lord, is currently working as a Marketing Representative for the Bahamas Telecommunications Company. Belgian Tanja Dexters developed a modeling career in Milan. In July 2000 she appeared nude in Playboy magazine. Then, she began to work as a presenter on TV in her country and she also did “pole dancing” and some singing, participating in the national preselection for Eurovision in 2002 and was last; in 2008 she tried again and came in second place. In 2006 she became the face of the poker games website Unibet.com. In 2009 she formed the girl group “Jameerah” which later disbanded and became “Fourlicious” in 2012. She has a daughter named Valentina. Bolivian Bianca Bauer has a company that serves food for events in Santa Cruz. She is married and has two children. Miss British Virgin Islands, Virginia Rubaine, is a doctor of psychiatry and is the Director of Mental Health Services in the islands. Croatian Lejla Sehovic married Dado Majoli, with whom she had a son and with whom she soon divorced in 2006. Then she married in 2007 Bosnian actor and TV presenter, Tarik Filipovic with whom she had her second son. Dominican Sharmín Díaz is a radio presenter and in 2020 she opened her own swimwear brand. She has a son named Sebastian.
Ecuadorian Vanessa Graf is a fashion entrepreneur and runs a haute couture clothing store in Guayaquil. Miss Estonia, Ly Jürgenson married in 2005 the former Finnish soccer player, Jari Litmanen with whom she had two children. In 2019 she returned to the Seychelles on vacation. Her husband contracted coronavirus in 2020 and possibly so did she. German Sandra Ahrabian made an acting career in her country in the 2000s. Miss Gibraltar, Melanie Soiza, is a makeup artist and runs her own beauty salon. Greek Katja Margaritoglou is a renowned interior designer. Dutch Nerena Ruinemans married cyclist Michael Boogerd on December 7, 2002 at the Roosendaalse Oude Raadhuis. On June 7, 2004, her first child, named Mikai, was born. They separated in November 2009 and she is currently in a relationship with Frank Claess. She works as a real estate agent. Hungarian Eva Horvath had a wonderful modeling career in her country, she also worked on television as a presenter. India’s Annie Thomas decided to become an event manager and went to live in Dubai, she got married and has a son. Irish Vivienne Doyle lives in Hollystown and is the mother of four children, two of whom suffer from autism. Lebanese Clemence Achkar-Habib was a TV presenter, is married, has a son and lives in Beirut. Liberian Olivia Cooper has a doctorate in spiritual psychology, she founded “Precious Crowns Ministeries” and is dedicated to the word of God, considering herself an apostle and prophet of the Lord. She lives in Gallatin, Tennessee, USA. Mexican Vilma Zamora is Director of Nenes Magazine and TV host. The Panamanian Lorena Zagía is the Commercial Manager of Saint Honoré, a supplier of beauty products in Panama City and has two daughters. Polish Izabela Opechowska graduated in Law and Journalism, married Sylwester Gardocki and has two children. Puerto Rican Antonia Alfonso Pagán is a sought-after dentist in Guaynabo.
Russian Tatyana Mokroushina is the director of her own clothing brand called “Angel Couture”, married with two children, Alexander and Mikhail. Miss St. Maarten, Myrtille Brookson is Director of the Illuminae Institute and is a motivational speaker. Slovak Karolina Cicatkova is a TV presenter in her country. Swedish Jessica Almenäs is a renowned TV presenter, specializing in sports. She had a relationship with Johan Edlund, with whom she had a son in 2005. She later became involved with Norwegian horseman Tony André Hansen, with whom she had her second child in 2009. The Swiss Sonja Grandjean married Sandro Küng and has two children, Travis and Lenny. Miss Tanzania, Basilla Mwanukuzi graduated in diplomacy, has an NGO named after her and has worked in the African Union and the UN. Trinidadian Jeanette La Caille is married to Jason Delvaille and lives in Jamaica. She is a Regional Distributor of “Sothys” Skin Products. Turkish Buket Saygi was working on TV series. She married in 2002 the Turkish singer Celik Erisci with whom she had her son Atilla Ata, born in 2004. They divorced in 2005 and since then she has left public life, moving to the Netherlands with her new boyfriend. Murat Kuyumcuoglu. Ukrainian Nataliya Nadtochey is the Director of the modeling agency “Oleg & Eva”. British Emmalene McLoughlin is a prominent makeup artist in Liverpool, is married with two daughters, Sienna and Lela.
The Venezuelan Verónica Schneider, daughter of the Venezuelan composer Pablo Schneider and at that time the girlfriend of Numa Delgado, 1st runner-up of Mr. Venezuela ’98, dedicated herself to acting. Since 2002 she has been in the cast of several soap operas such as “Mambo y Canela”, “Engañada”, “Besos Robados”, “Amantes” and “La Viuda Joven”. She was the image of Grunenthal from Venezuela. She married Venezuelan supermodel Enrique Palacios in April 2007. The civil ceremony was in Caracas and the ecclesiastical ceremony was not in Seychelles but in Greece. Along with Enrique she has two children, Sarah, born on November 5, 2008 and David, who came to the world on May 9, 2013. She moved to Miami in 2014 where she currently lives with her family and is signed with Telemundo. In 2018 she performed with her family at Milan Fashion Week with Dolce & Gabbana. Yugoslav Jelena Jakovljevic also made an acting career in her country. Miss Angola, Manuela Lemos, works as a journalist and TV presenter in her country. She worked in the Miss Angola organization as a teacher of etiquette and protocol for a time.And Miss Zambia, Chisala Chibesa, works in the Ministry of Education in her country.
THE WAY THEY LOOK NOW